Government Digital Service: Our strategy for 2021-2024

A very interesting discussion of where the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) will focus over the next 3 years. Much to be learned here about the state of digital transformation, and the current focus for digital teams in Large Established Organizations (LEOs).

For GBS it started with simplifying websites and high volume transactions (such as applying for a driving license or paying a fine).

Following Martha Lane Fox’s report into digital government in 2010, GDS was established to focus on fixing publishing, digitising high-volume transactional services, and building “wholesale” technology platforms.

But now they see themselves as a central service for building digital tech for all of government with 800 people (in 2015 it was 500) and a budget of £90M. More than 60% of this is to maintain existing software and content.

We are perfectly positioned to look at the work of digital teams across government to identify where there are common needs for products, platforms and services. By building centrally we can do the heavy lifting to allow departments to focus on building services, rather than having to reinvent the wheel.

So where should they now focus? GDS believe there are 3 areas:

  • services that hide the complexity of government structures from the end user
  • services that can only be delivered by the centre
  • services that should be built once, and reused widely

Based on this they have defined 5 “missions” (because we are all mission-based now, yes?) with quite an extensive set of tasks behind each one.

Mission 1: GOV.UK as the single and trusted online destination for government information and services

Mission 2: Joined-up services that solve whole problems and span multiple departments

Mission 3: A simple digital identity solution that works for everyone

Mission 4: Common tools and expert services

Mission 5: Joined-up data across departments

To go about this the GDS has extended its set of principles. Beyond their existing well-crafted digital guidelines published some time ago, GDS reinforces its commitment to open approaches (both in the use of source software solutions and open access), and to moving more of its work out of London to hubs in Manchester and Bristol.

So what won’t they be doing? The answer, for many, could be interpreted as “all the hard boring stuff that makes government work”. No focus on legacy systems. No working on cyber security. No interests in ERP. No support for desktops, IT management, or personal productivity tools. I sure hope that’s being picked up elsewhere.