The limits of the collective intelligence of the civil service: an example

The inefficiency of government cannot be be understated. I need tax for my car. Handily the government have an online tool to tell me what it will cost. It probably cost the government many thousands of pounds in development costs and came with a several decade long maintenance contract.

Question 1

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I would have thought this information could really be gleaned from my registration number. Let’s continue.

Question 2

Who the fuck knows that about their car? What is wrong with these people?

Ok, another tactic. Let’s look at the tables and hopefully I can decipher it from that.

Tax tables

Who the fuck knows their car’s CO2 emission rate?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Your tax money, hard at work, making things that are utterly fucking useless. What a proud time to call yourself British.

Luckily, the DVLA have a site which takes only 5 clicks to get this information. Gosh they’ve got UI design down to a tee over at the civil service. This probably cost a few billion pounds.

That doesn’t include an API by the way, and that form is rate limited. If you can prove that having bulk access to this data is in the public good, however, you can apply (read ‘beg’) to be sent an enormous fucking XLS spreadsheet with everything you need to know. Until it becomes out of date.



Now read this

Should we make a working group to kill X.509?

tl;dr banter on HN isn’t enough, sign up here to actually do something So yesterday I wrote an article about the flawed security of X.509 which you can read here. When it was about 2/3 complete I showed it to my best mate and said “I... Continue →