65 per cent of
civil servants think their existing IT infrastructure is partly to
blame for holding back departments’ modernisation programmes.*
The head of the Government
Digital Service (GDS) has warned that departments are guilty
of prioritising policy requirements over infrastructure upgrades.
The man on the street just wants seamless access to services
at a fair cost to the taxpayer.
Can cloud-based technology
platforms provide the elusive win-win?
Mandated to help
government work better for everyone by leading digital
transformation, the GDS was
set up as a centre of excellence to instil a government
“digital-by-default” approach. Over the years it has navigated
departmental power struggles, austerity, and periods on and off the
endangered species list to transform dozens of fundamental services
– making them simpler, clearer and faster.
championed Government as a Platform (GaaP) as a new way of building
digital services. It has also provided a set of common tools and
guidance, and hired hundreds of people in digital roles across
government. This has reversed the public sector’s traditional
outsource model, leading it to become one of the biggest technology
‘in-sourcers’. As a result, many departments now boast significant
in-house development skills, yet costly legacy systems persist.
GaaP promotes sharing and reuse, making it cheaper and easier
for service teams across government to design, assemble and build
services who are currently frustrated by out-dated inflexible
infrastructure and piecemeal procurement processes.
has never been more important with increased pressures including
Brexit, accountability and productivity demands. Therefore it’s time
to shine a spotlight on the success and failures of initiatives to
date in order to move forward, which leaves GaaP at a critical
For an effective future government,
policymaking and service delivery must combine to deliver better
outcomes for citizens. Here, leveraging integrated platform
economics through flexible, cost-effective and outcome-focused
technology infrastructure will be key.
How can GDS work to
truly transform Whitehall into a platform fit for the digital age?
Cloud-based technologies are integral to provide fast, easy,
user-friendly experiences that citizens demand. The flexibility this
provides enables the government to offer services consumers have
come to expect in other areas of their lives. Just look to Amazon
1-click ordering, Uber, or PayPal money transfers as common
examples. While research from comScore shows us that
70% of what people consume is through their mobile devices ,
so they want services such as applying for a drivers licence or
claiming taxes to be accessed through this medium – and why
shouldn’t they be?
Our cloud-based platform utilises
intelligent digital workflows that enable government agencies to
provide faster, more effective public services with more
transparency, and at lower costs. This means repetitive tasks and
processes can be taken on, which frees up public sector workers to
do more complex work at the same time as offer end users more
personalised and self-service experiences.
For example, by
working with companies like
ServiceNow , departments like the DVLA are starting to
implement a digital-first strategy. They now provide a myriad of
services via the website, from taxing your vehicle to changing your
address, all without having to call and speak to a representative.
While Britain’s largest government division, the Department
for Work and Pensions previously had no visibility on how they were
performing, with ServiceNow it now has end-to-end oversight of its
infrastructure and services. This includes capacity management,
availability management and event management. As a result, the
department is being empowered to focus more on the user experience,
rather than purely on system performance. This outcome should serve
as a great example to other public-sector departments of what can be
achieved with the right type of technology.
There is still
a long way to go, however. To progress in the right direction, GDS
must ensure that its products and advice remain relevant. Public and
private sector innovation must also be leveraged to meet the
challenges that the required increasing consumerisation of
government services demands – a topic I will explore further in my