Defra unveils new digital and data transformation strategy for 2030

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its latest digital and data transformation roadmap for 2030, which includes the appointment of a new Chief Data Officer. 

The 2023-2030 strategy sets out six missions which look at creating more effective and sustainable digital services, growing Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) skills and making better use of data to inform decision-making. 

Mission one is about redesigning Defra’s services to improve the user experience. By 2025, the department said it will have trained service owners in place for all Defra group priority services and replaced 20% of paper forms with digital alternatives. It is also aiming to have at least six of Defra’s top 9 highest volume services delivered to CDDO ‘great’ standard. 

Mission two looks at using digital, data and technology to drive efficiency and effectiveness, while improving value for money. This will involve a new grants platform and an identity management platform for all Defra customers linked to the Cabinet Office’s One Login for government. 

Three seeks to develop the technology, skills and culture for better use of data across Defra. As part of this mission a separate, more detailed data strategy will be developed by a new Chief Data Officer, the department said. 

The fourth mission focuses on sustainability. This will involve modernising the department’s technology estate, lowering maintenance costs and reducing security risks associated with cyber-attacks and operational failure.

Mission five is about equipping staff with the right digital skills and capabilities. There will also be a focus on the retention and growth of DDaT skills, with Defra having  pledged to double the Digital Academies’ offer to target the top 4 hardest to recruit DDaT roles. 

The sixth mission, which Defra said will be the most challenging, is about addressing barriers to transformation - both internal and systemic. The aim is to make it easier to work across the organisation and to fund, design, develop and deliver improvements to Defra’s services.

A step change 

Nick Joicey, Defra’s Second Permanent Secretary, said: "The strategy represents stronger, closer partnerships across Defra group between operations, digital, policy and our corporate service functions to change how we design and deliver services. It builds on what we are doing but marks a step change in collaboration across Defra group and with partners outside.

"The barriers that we face to achieve data and digital transformation across Defra group are significant, but the opportunities are immense."

He continued: “This strategy is under-pinned by real, tangible commitments and actions. It sets out how together we can use data and digital to better protect and improve the environment, and reform the food, farming, fisheries, water and waste sectors now and for generations to come.”

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