PUBLIC SECT0R: Ealing to trial Knowledge Network

The London Borough of Ealing is to be the guinea pig for plans to

bring the Government's Knowledge Network web management system to local

authorities.



The network, which includes a rebuttal database, has the ability to

create its own press releases and distribute information to residents on

the web, drawing on information from across departments.



Ealing has been chosen by the Office of the e-Envoy (OeE) to pilot the

network, which is already in use across central government.



The OeE is expected to produce a case study report based on Ealing next

year to see if the scheme is viable across local government.



Joe McCrae, an ex-special adviser to former health secretary Frank

Dobson and now OeE project director of knowledge enhanced government, is

co-ordinating the Ealing link-up.



The scheme launches in Ealing next month and follows the redesign of the

council website in October.



Ealing comms director Clive Caseley, said the cost came from the

existing comms budget as improvements to web content were already

planned for this year. This included £23,000 to buy Microsoft's

content management server.



'The OeE is offering us support. What we are trying to do with our web

content fitted in well with the OeE's work,' he added.



The Knowledge Network is based on a health department rebuttal system

and is the brainchild of McCrae and ex-BBC political research head Bill

Bush.



In terms of rebuttal, the system searches government databases to find

the best suited quotes and facts to support an argument.



The network came under fire when it was introduced across central

government earlier this year (PR Week, 14 January). There were fears it

would be exploited by the Labour Party as a propaganda tool.



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