Digital agenda for policy making and administrative departments

Department of Health

What does the Digital by Default initiative mean for departments which focus on policy making or administration?

The Department of Health is to become more centred on strategic policy making from April 1 2013, as the new health and care reforms take place. Health services are to be delivered through the NHS as opposed to the DoH – however, the secretary of state will maintain accountability.

For the DoH, the digital agenda means implementing digital tools and techniques to improve communication, share and manage knowledge and open up policy making. An example of this might include social media, to gain insights into what citizens think, and croudsourcing. This will require a shift in the mindset of public organisations which are usually operated in a more traditional manner. For this reason, the digital agenda is simultaneously about technology and cultural change.

This is not the only challenge. The ‘invest-to-save’ approach for some departments will be uncomfortable due to budgetary cuts. Short term challenges need to be faced to meet long term goals. Going digital is ultimately expected to save billions.

A further challenge to face is that many people are not online. The work of organisations such as libraries, community centres and the Post Office as intermediaries for those who are not able to use digital services is expected to become the norm.

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