Welcome to the Government Digital Service blog

We exist to make public services digital by default, and we are relentlessly focused on user needs.

At the moment, we are bringing together various strands of Government digital activity into one function in order to drive up quality and consistency of user experience. Please do take some time to review our projects.

As the new Director of Digital it has been an amazing few weeks, so I would like to share a few first impressions from inside Government. As a digital citizen who has watched Government carefully for some years, it was still a surprise to see how deep the commitment to user needs permeates through the Civil Service, and without exception I have had support for more digital innovation to meet user demand. Which is one reason that I am delighted to see Mark O’Neill, Peter Herlihy and team deliver the e-petitions site so quickly. In particular, the delivery of this project is an indicator to how we will deliver going forward: It was done quickly to a high standard, will be updated continuously based on usage and demand, and had limited development cost. It enabled the GDS to work with some outstanding external developers, and we also were advised by many developers who have delivered in this space before. I expect this model to be repeated again and again as we move to becoming digital by default.

The second key piece of learning for me has been how important it will be to have a federated identity layer across Government services. While inside Government it can be hard to see outside of departmental processes, as citizens and users we all know that we generally view Government services digitally as being either locally or nationally provided, and that we often don’t worry too much about the department responsible. Accepting that this user behaviour will drive the provision of cross Government delivery is a principle which has been played back to me repeatedly in the last 3 weeks. We will have more information about identity and digital services coming soon.

The final impression is the high level of encouragement and interest outside of Government. I have been bowled over by the goodwill and encouragement that those who have looked at the GDS have provided. The idea that a high-level of digital talent at the heart of Government, involving policy, strategy and delivery on behalf of users, is now seen as a key part of Government transformation has been fully embraced. I will be laying out more detail on this vision and how we will help deliver digital services in the coming weeks and months

In the meantime, please get in touch and let us know what content and data you would like to see here. Like the GDS itself, this blog is a work in progress, so we will update and inform as much as we can, because even in our communications, we are led by user demand.

My personal blog is here or follow me on Twitter @MTBracken

Photo credit: Paul Clarke

15 comments

  1. I’d really like an anonymous, but consistent set of results from the GCSEs and A levels. By this I mean student A from school B got 45% in “Home economics”, 11% in Physics, 82% in Sociology etc, so we can cross correlate reference which exams are worth anything.

    I’d also like to see the numbers of people, employed by the state, who have existing DV clearance, compared with those who don’t so we can check that “There is no advantage to posessing pre-existing clearance”

    I’d also like to see basically all underlying data, that conclusions are formed from, not the data that the government releases. I don’t want to see, for example “94% of kids in a coal mining school secondary modern got 5 a-c’s (or equivalent it seems,) I want to actually see the results, so I can see that when a kid gets asked the question “What do we wash with? A. Soap, B. Copper or C. Aluminium (yes it’s true,) in a chemistry GCSE exam, I can judge for myself that the government has a clue.

    ps. About 20 different forms of single sign on have been solved, for over a decade. Literally anyone who was on the Gov Gateway programme can show you.

  2. Without doubt the digital citizen is growing in numbers however i suspect we are perhaps 2 generations away from being a totally digital nation. Pushing to quickly with a digital format will exclude a percentage of the population many of whom are the older members of our society.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Government fully recognises that not everyone is currently online and, when the Digital by Default strategy was launched, promised that ‘no-one would be left behind by the drive towards digital delivery’. What this means will vary from service to service – because of the variety of services provided by government and the differences in the service-user population of each service. However, as each government service is made digital by default, GDS will work with the department that owns the service, their delivery partners, and other relevant partners to ensure that an Assisted Digital strategy is in place to ensure that everyone who needs to can access the digital service.

      We are also working with Martha Lane Fox, the Digital Champion, and her Race Online partnerships to help more of those who remain offline to get online. The demographics of those who remain offline indicate that they are among the sections of the population with the most to gain by getting online (be it saving money from better deals offered online, improved job opportunities, better educational achievements, or reducing social isolation). It is therefore the governments view that we should encourage everyone to get online.

      Government also has a duty to the tax-payer, and to service-users, to ensure that services are delivered in the most effective way possible. Increasingly services are being delivered online because it is more convenient and efficient to do so in our 24/7 lifestyles. To meet the future expectation of all – now is the time to invest in digital delivery.

      Bob Kamall,
      Assisted Digital team
      Government Digital Service

  3. Thanks for coming back Bob. I very much agree with what you’ve said. And it is very much true that the later we start transforming into digital the longer it will take to achive the digital goal.

  4. Hei, Great post. Thanks.
    I’d like to see basically all underlying data, that conclusions are formed from, not the data that the government releases. I don’t want to see, for example “94% of kids in a coal mining school secondary modern got 5 a-c’s (or equivalent it seems,) I want to actually see the results, so I can see that when a kid gets asked the question “What do we wash with? A. Soap, B. Copper or C. Aluminium (yes it’s true,) in a chemistry GCSE exam, I can judge for myself that the government has a clue.
    Childcarer in London

  5. I agree with becoming more digital however we must take time out for the elders who have a hard time in grasping these concepts

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