This week at GDS

Highlights: The launch of new guides for Chief Technology Officers on the Digital Service Manual. We also published the latest quarterly update on the transaction explorer which for the first time included information about the digital take up of all departmental services. We met with digital leaders to carry on conversations around building digital capability within departments and DCLG talked about how they are supporting local authorities with their move to digital by default agendas. We also met with the BIS Entrepreneurs Forum to talk to them about GOV.UK, the advice for businesses on there and how we could look to improve it. After the bank holiday we’ll start testing with real users some of the improvements to the search facility of GOV.UK that we’ve been working on over the last few weeks.

(Full transcript below)

Hello, Kathy. What have you been up to at GDS this week?

Kathy Settle:
Two big things I want to highlight. The first one, which was mentioned last week, is that Liam Maxwell’s technology team have launched some new guides for Chief Technology Officers on the Digital Service Manual. So, some really useful stuff on there about how to take forward improvements to technology.

The other thing that’s worth mentioning is the transaction explorer. So as you know, we do regular updates on that. The last quarterly update we did came out last week, which also included for the first time information about the digital take-up of all departmental services. So, some really interesting stuff there people might want to look at.

We’ve also had a couple of big meetings this week as well.

Kathy Settle:
We have. We had – the digital leaders had their monthly meeting on Wednesday. Quite a few things they talked about; two of the big ones probably worth mentioning. The first one was we carried on our conversations about building digital capability in departments.

This meeting particularly focused on how we can help departments recruit the right people to fill the gaps in their capabilities. The second presentation was from DCLG. Both Julian Barry and Sheila Reynolds gave a presentation about how they’re supporting local authorities with their move to digital by default agendas.

The second meeting we went to was the BIS Entrepreneurs Forum. This is a meeting run by their BIS Secretary of State. They meet quarterly to talk to entrepreneurs who run business to get their feedback on various BIS policies. We went to talk to them about GOV.UK and the advice for businesses on GOV.UK and how we could look to improve it.

We’re having follow up meetings, particularly with Dale Murray, who’s one of their non-exec directors. We’re arranging to meet her in a few weeks, which will be really interesting. It’s always good to get some feedback from real users about our services.

You’ve got a couple of big things coming up after the bank holiday as well?

Kathy Settle:
Yes, we have and probably the big thing really is the improvements that we’re making to the search facility on GOV.UK. We’ve been working on that for a few weeks now and next week we’re going to start testing it with some real users to get their feedback, which will be really helpful.

Many thanks to Kate Cook and the user testing team for that. We look forward to their comments feeding into the improvements that we do between now and probably around about mid-June.

We continue having new starters but also a couple of people moving around in house as well.

Kathy Settle:
We do. Particularly worth mentioning today Janet Hughes. Janet has been the real guiding force behind getting all the policy work onto GOV.UK. So, all those policies you see negotiated between departments, Janet’s been the force that’s made that happen.

Now we’ve transitioned all the departments onto GOV.UK, Janet’s going to be moving on to our identity insurance team, where I’m sure she’ll be just as influential there.

GDS staff continue to be out and about talking in places as well.

Kathy Settle:
Yes, that’s right. I think Mike Bracken mentioned last week he was speaking at the Thinking Digital event which he did on Wednesday. Also, Jordan Hatch who people might remember joined us as a 17 year old only about 18 months ago now. He was speaking at his second ever talk at the OpenTech event. By all reports was excellent, so well done Jordan.

Excellent. Well, enjoy the bank holiday.

Kathy Settle:
And you.

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