Michael CrossEditorWednesday 25 April 2012

Private sector focus to digital by default panel

A bank, a retailer and an academic expert are to sit on the government's advisory board for online public services. However the board of 'dynamic experts' unveiled today includes no representative of local government or health.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the Digital Advisory Board, chaired by Martha Lane Fox, the UK digital champion, "will support the government to deliver its commitment to provide high-quality public services online by default". The hope is that the independent experts will think outside organisational boundaries and ensure the new generation of online services being developed by the Government Digital Service are easy to find and use.

The panel includes some well known figures in the e-government community are Professor Helen Margetts of the Oxford Internet Institute and William Perrin, a former Cabinet Office official who championed the ground-breaking Power of Information review. But the other members come overwhelmingly from the private sector. They include Lane Fox's former Lastminute.com partner Brent Hoberman and representatives of Lloyds Bank and Marks & Spence.

Members of the board, which met for the first time yesterday, are:

Martha Lane Fox, UK digital champion

Richard Allan, a former MP now with Facebook

Alex Balfour, of Olympics organisers LOCOG

James Bilefield, Condé Nast International

Tim Brooks, former Guardian managing director now with UTalk

Brent Hoberman, PROfounders Capital

Ashley Machin, Lloyds Banking Group

Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University

Brian McBride, MX Data

Kip Meek, adviser to mobile phone company Everything Everywhere and a former chair of the Broadband Stakeholders Group

Will Perrin, a former Cabinet Office official and Number Ten policy adviser who left the civil service to found Talk About Local

Laura Wade-Gery, head of e-commerce at Marks & Spencer

Lane Fox said the board "will challenge government to deliver better services for users and is the next step on the journey to achieving digital by default services and information provision across government".

The Digital Advisory Board will meet twice a year and members will be able to share their expertise and take part in "additional ad-hoc meetings and events", the Cabinet Office said.

Seven of the panel's 12 members are Oxbridge graduates with three (Lane Fox, Meek and Wade-Gery) alumni of Magdalen College Oxford.