Digital Strategy

‘Government as a data model’ : what I learned in Estonia

I’ve just got back from a few days in the Republic of Estonia, looking at how they deliver their digital services and sharing stories of some of the work we are up to here in the UK. We have an ongoing agreement with the Estonian government to work together and share knowledge and expertise, and that is what brought me to the beautiful city of Tallinn.

Toompea Castle and Tallinn Old Town

I knew they were digitally sophisticated. But even so, I wasn’t remotely prepared for what I learned. (more…)

What about people who aren’t online?

‘What about people who aren’t online?’ is a question we’re often asked on the assisted digital team. So we decided to run a workshop at GDS’ Sprint Alpha event on 17th July to answer it.

Assisted digital workshop at Sprint Alpha

Assisted digital workshop at Sprint Alpha

Rebecca Kemp and Richard Smith kicked off the workshop by outlining the two projects GDS and departments are working on together to ensure that people who aren’t online can use digital government services: assisted digital and digital inclusion.

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Digital Services Framework

Now that the application process for our new Digital Services Framework has opened, we thought it would be useful to say a bit more about what it is.

What’s a framework, you ask? It’s a list of suppliers who’ve been pre-approved to bid for government contracts. It means the public sector can reduce the time it would otherwise take to buy services under European Union procurement regulations.

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Reforming governance in government technology

We announced in March that we would reform the governance of our technology provision in central government. We need a simpler, clearer model of governance based on user needs. Those users are our colleagues as well as citizens and this issue strikes right at the heart of the civil service reform programme as well as our digital agenda.

So what are we doing?

So far we have:

  • completed an initial analysis to identify how the current system is put together, and how it’s working
  • closed 2 existing boards and put the rest on “pause”
  • created one board that we are publicly committed to – Open Standards
  • communicated the main changes, and
  • monitored the effects of doing these things.

We have also started to identify user needs, to work with and consult digital leaders, department technology leads, procurement leads, finance directors, delivery staff and service managers. We will create user groups to ensure all stakeholder needs are taken into account and that we don’t lose the knowledge and expertise from previous boards.
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Benefits of diversity

Sam Sharpe is an Operations Engineer at GDS, working within our Hosting and Infrastructure Team. This post was contributed to by others – see the change history for more details.

After a talk by Jordan and Tom at the OpenTech 2013 Conference recently, I was asked if the number of technologies we use scares us. I thought this was an excellent question leading to lots of interesting points about diversity which I would like to explore here.

GOV.UK is a diverse collection of individual applications and supporting services. We use at least five different programming languages, three separate database types, two versions of an operating system and other variations too numerous to count. When issues arise, the first problem is often to determine which of these many things are related to the problem. (more…)

Open Standards Board sets the direction

The first meeting of the newly formed Open Standards Board took place on Thursday last week (9 May). Liam Maxwell, the Government’s Chief Technology Officer, chaired the meeting writes Linda Humphries.

I am enormously grateful to all of the members for volunteering their time and their expertise for the public good. Over time, their efforts will have a massive impact on people’s lives, making our services better and potentially saving millions of pounds in public money.

It was great to finally get down to work on putting the structures in place to help us make the right choice of which open standards to use.

The Open Standards Board agreed the process for how we should select open standards and appointed Nicholas Oughtibridge from the Health and Social Care Information Centre to chair a Data Standards Panel to advise the Board.

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