Govt publishes its digital strategy: future plans and current obstacles

[caption id="attachment_1168" align="alignright" width="300"] The main aim of the strategy is to create “a consistent, high-quality user experience”[/caption]

The government published its Digital Strategy and Digital Efficiency reports on Tuesday, which elaborate on how the government hopes to achieve its ‘digital by default’ agenda and points out shortcomings of existing digital services, Computerworld has reported. The Digital Efficiency report also says that by moving all public sector services to digital channels, the government hopes to save between GBP 1.7 billion and GBP 1.8 billion a year.

The main aim of the strategy is to create “a consistent, high-quality user experience“, the lack of which “is a critical issue holding back performance and adoption of digital services“.

The strategy does not cover local government services or the NHS, but the report says that designs and code generated under the strategy will be shared with the wider public sector.

According to Mike Bracken, executive director of Government Digital Service, “This is the first time that the Government has produced a strategy in this way, a truly digital document which reflects our ambitions and signals a clear roadmap for working with departments to help them achieve the goals set out in this strategy.”

According to Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude

  • “Britain is in a global race and that’s why we need to have modern, efficient, digital-by-default public services that are fit for the 21st century.”
  • “Building world-class government digital services will take time but the publication of this strategy just a fortnight after the launch of is an important milestone.”
  • “Digital services are much more convenient because they can be accessed whenever you want them. They are also much more efficient, saving taxpayers’ money and the user’s time. Online transactions can be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than face-to-face, and up to 50 times cheaper than by post.”

Some of the strategy’s aims:

  • 152 transactional services handling over 100,000 transactions each year to be redesigned, operated and improved
  • A consistent digital approach across central government departments and agencies
  • Driving examiners will be equipped with mobile devices to complete the process of filing paper forms to confirm who has passed electronically
  • Redesign of departments, starting with seven, including HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Transport
  • All central government departments will be mandated to appoint a digital leader onto their executive boards.

Current shortcomings pointed out:

  • 82% of the population is online but “most people rarely use online government services”
  • 650 transactional services are online but “there is only a handful where a significant majority of people who could use the online option do so”
  • The percentage of people using online government services rose from 39% in 2005 to 57% in 2011, but there has not been much improvement since 2007
  • Many government services rely on digitised versions of pre-digital business processes, some of which are over 30 years old.
  • Over-reliance on an oligopoly of large systems integrators means that the civil service does not have a thorough understanding of digital channels – “This makes services less efficient and less effective for users.

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