Jimmy Wales, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, is set to advise Whitehall on how it can use technology to shape policy-making going forward.
Wikipedia is a hugely successful not-for-profit online encyclopaedia that was established in 2000 by Wales and Larry Sanger.
The news was revealed on Sunday night at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Texas, after the government’s executive director for transparency and open data, Tim Kelsey, tweeted that Rohan Silva, a senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, had made the announcement during a talk.
Kelsey (@tkelsey1) tweeted: “#SXSW rohan announces that Jimmy Wales to advise uk gov on#CrowdGov.”
The Cabinet Office has since confirmed that Wales will be advising government on how technology can be used to aid policy-making.
“Mr Wales will act as an unpaid adviser to government to support its agenda to open up policy-making to the public,” said a government spokesperson.
"He will advise government on developing innovative new ways in which technology can be used to give the public a greater say in the policy-making process.”
According to Whitehall sources, the decision to get Wales on board is an attempt to further develop the government’s crowdsourcing initiatives that have been running since May 2010.
For example, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2011, some 200,000 public sector workers submitted suggestions on how to reduce wasteful spending.
Further attempts have included the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Bill 2012, which was created through an online crowdsourcing process, and aims to enable the public to highlight regulations and rules that should be scrapped in order to promote civil liberties and reduce red tape.