GDS should separate control and advisory functions, says BDO report

The Government Digital Service faces three key risks to its progress, which can be tackled by separating its roles as a control and advisory body, according to a report by consultancy firm BDO.

The report praises the role that the GDS has played in being the “catalyst” for government digital transformation, but warns that as it matures, the service faces three risks to the continued progress of digital transition.

The BDO analysis forecasts that the GDS will face an ‘accountability risk’: where its advisory role reduces its independence as a controlling body and makes the department harder to hold to account.

Secondly, the GDS faces a ‘commercial risk’ from a preference of “input-based” commercial deals rather than a traditional commercial approach which is impacting the relationship between client and suppliers.

Finally, the GDS’ monopolistic position, as both the key advisory and control service, poses an ‘efficiency risk’ as it is not subject to normal competition or market conditions.

The report concludes that all three of these risks identified can be resolved by a clear separation of the GDS’ roles.

It recommends that the controls function of the GDS should be integrated into the government’s Major Projects Authority gateway review process.

Whilst the advisory functions should form a joint venture within the private sector to encourage growth and competition so that efficiency is always on the agenda.

To manage the commercial risk, the commercial activities within the GDS should be given to the Crown Commercial Services “as a matter of urgency”.

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