It's always good to listen to Bruce Schneier's more informal comments on some of the vital topics with which he works.
Bruce is one of our time's most influential IT people, and rightly so. I have followed his blog since it started nearly fifteen years ago and have learned volumes from his ideas and discussions. His analysis is razor sharp. He has also gained a justified respect for his objective, impartial and trustworthy communication and his robust criticism of those who have rightfully earned it, regardless of their position or status.
I can see attitudes changing towards employees working sabbaticals, secondments or private projects together with government. I think such arrangements would help the company with better informed and wiser employees and absolutely improve the way the tech industry and government interact. Above all, and maybe most importantly, it would increase knowledgable public oversight of the government's IT efforts considerably.
Society needs to have much more control over what their elected (and unelected) representatives do in their name and interest. It's not just about incompetent public authorities burning taxpayer money on countless failed IT projects, it's also about government passing utterly flawed legislation which affects the new world which modern communication technology brings to us in unexpected, invasive and repressive ways. The ramifications of some laws being passed now will be felt most harshly by our children who have grown up in this new world.
As Bruce notes: "As employees, technologists wield enormous power." If tech people want to have a closer involvement with government, they need to start raising their voices. I think recent events have shown that some companies have obviously felt very uncomfortable in the light of public employee protests. This is an effective lever which employees can use to change company behaviours and policies.
On a broader theme: regardless of which industry we work in, we must always remember that our public servants (elected or appointed) are just that; our servants. Society is the employer and is entitled to complete oversight of the job which we pay the state to perform. We are also required, as employers, to conduct such oversight. As far as I can see, there is far too little of either happening.
Without effective oversight, there is no real democracy. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?