The Government Digital Strategy was published back in November 2012, outlining 14 actions. Today, an update to the progress of the five mostly closely linked to digital capabilities has been released.
Presented in a briefing by government tech trio Stephen Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer, and Mike Bracken, the Head of the Government Digital Service, the ethos was very much around unification – and the alignment of IT with digital.
The idea of the update, as Kelly put it, is to “set the direction for the future of our technology leadership.”
He continued: “Governance is central to promoting a web-based, user-focused and participative culture.”
The plan not only reflects what users need from government, but also provides a route towards efficiency and reform policies.
One of the biggest announcements within the updates was that the all-encompassing role of government CIO left vacant by Andy Nelson in February would no longer exist.
The reason given in the briefing was that the role is “no longer central to delivery.”
The progress on the five action points outlined in the briefing is as follows:
Departmental and transactional agency boards will include an active digital leader
This individual would work closely with Government Digital Service as part of a ‘digital leader network’.
Services handling over 100,000 transactions each year will be re-designed, operated and improved by a skilled, experienced and empowered Service Manger
Departments will have to identify ‘exemplar’ services for transaction. So far 23 have been identified, of which work has started on 15, and 9 are already in alpha or beta delivery stages.
Additionally, 5 Service Managers have already been formally appointed.
All departments will ensure that they have appropriate digital capability in-house, including specialist skills
This involves department working towards recruiting digital capability in-house. The Ministry of Justice has already created a new Digital Services Division working on new ideas for the department.
Cabinet Office will support improved digital capability across departments
The government’s digital team has been under review, and there will be a new structure delivered. The aim is to prioritise user needs and departmental support.
This includes 14 Senior Technical Advisors which are being appointed to Maxwell’s team – as a result, the government CIO role is no longer needed.
There will be a new focus to existing CIOs, based on individual department and user needs, while Kelly will also take on the additional role of Government Senior Information Risk Owner – or GSIRO.
From April 2014, all new or designed transactional services will meet the Digital by Default Service Standard
A new Digital by Default Service Standard has been launched, and all new or redesigned services will have to meet the standard from April 2014 before they’re hosted on GOV.UK
A beta version of the Service Standard has been published today.
The aim is to produce online services that citizens ‘prefer to use’.
The Digital by Default Service Standard
To meet the standard, departments producing digital services will need to meet 26 points – which range from researching the audience, to keeping it secure, to setting benchmarks for quality.
The full list of standards can already be found on the GOV.UK site.
Additionally, GDS has launched a full Service Manual that guides departments and organisations through the process of meeting the standard.
There is a wide range of guides, on topics including agility, user-focus, and design.
The full list of Service guides can also be found on the GOV.UK site.
This news comes just one day after the Design Commission launched its own report calling for better designed public services.
Kelly went on to describe the recent National Audit Office review of the government’s ICT strategy:
“The NAO report was supportive of what we are doing, but it recognised the scale of the change required – and the skills we would need to deliver.
“We want an exceptional Civil Service delivering the best Britain: more skilled, less bureaucratic and more unified.
“Roughly £1.2 billion of savings could be made during this parliament alone by bringing central government transactional services online. So, the opportunity is huge, and this progress means we are racing to meet it.”
The Government Digital Strategy came about following the Civil Service Reform Plan, which set out the need to move to a “digital civil service.
This incorporated Digital by Default – in skills, style, and how citizens use services to interact with government.