Organising for Digital Delivery report released
The Organising for Digital Delivery report highlights the need to tackle legacy IT systems across government and make better use of the data government holds to improve services.
The report was commissioned by Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and written by the Digital Economy Council to look at the government’s delivery of digital services.
The Cabinet Office described the report as "invaluable input in finalising the commitments and actions" of the recent Declaration on Government Reform - and therefore helps illustrate in detail the Government's thinking for the future of government digital services.
According to Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office Minister, the report raised "key issues which we must address, such as tackling our history of outdated IT systems and transforming the way we use data across government."
The report simultaneously flagged a lack of confidence from Departmental Permanent Secretaries in the work of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and raised a concern that GDS had "to some extent lost its way" - and a general concern about "under-developed level of digital expertise amongst senior Civil Service leadership".
If central digital capacity isn't supported, and Departmental leaders are not asking the right questions - then it's easy to explain the failure to share data across Whitehall, a further challenge raised by the report:
"Our investigations suggest that many Government Departments are investing significant sums in collecting and storing often very large datasets but making little use of this data to influence action of decision making."
One senior civil servant recruited from the private sector is quoted in the report as saying that their biggest surprise was "how little we do with our data."
The report makes eight recommendations to address these challenges and deliver on the ambition to make UK Government digital services the best in the world:
- Build mechanisms to put the citizen at the heart of all design decisions
- Strengthen the accountability of Departments and their Permanent Secretaries
- Hire a Permanent Secretary level head of function
- Re-focus and add teeth to the centre
- Create clear investment swim lanes to address the legacy debt
- Set up a quarterly business review process
- Invest in developing the technical fluency of senior civil service leadership
- Create a Government data application centre of excellence
The report suggests a reinvigoration of the central Government Digital product function, by owning critical services such as the GOV.UK communication portal, identity validation, payment and other current and future digital services which are most effectively delivered centrally across Government.
This is set to include strengthening and leading a central planning, budgeting and monitoring team to ensure that over £5bn of Government investment in technology is being allocated effectively and to monitor and audit the performance of Departments against their technology commitments.