Minister discusses digital marketplace transformation

Government minister Chris Skidmore took to the stage at the D5 summit of leading digital governments to talk about the UK government’s progress in digital public services.

The minister started his speech in South Korea by sharing a little about what the UK has done to improve its public services.

“When we set about reforming our services, we knew that users had to be at the heart of everything we do,” said Skidmore. “And that is the first principle of our Digital Service Standard, a standard which has been replicated by governments both locally and internationally.

“Putting users first means understanding exactly what people need from their interaction with government and then delivering it seamlessly. It also means creating common services across government, services like The Digital Marketplace, which improves procurement by opening up the public sector to small and medium enterprises. In the last few months, the total spend through Digital Marketplace has exceeded £1.5bn.”


Success stories

Skidmore went on to explain more about GOV.UK Verify and pointed out that since going live in May, it has verified more than 900,000 users.

He then added that GOV.UK Notify enables service teams to send text messages, emails or letters to their users, before they get anxious enough to call. This saves time and effort by reducing the need for people to sit on hold waiting for an update on their application or to check if their payment has been received. GOV.UK Notify has started sending text messages and emails to users of government services.

GOV.UK Pay makes it easier for people to pay for government services online. It has been industry accredited and is ready for business.


Number one

“This work has made us number one in both the United Nation’s E–Government Development Index and the E–Participation Index this year,” continued Skidmore. “We believe that by making things open, you make things better. We share expertise worldwide through open source, open standards, open data and international collaboration.”

He then outlined that the aim is to make the UK government the most transparent in the world.

“We are committed to the UK’s Open Government National Action Plan, which sets out our commitments to greater openness, transparency and civic participation. We publish new commitments every two years, alongside other members of the Open Government Partnership, such as our D5 co-founders New Zealand, Israel, South Korea and Estonia.

“The Open Standards Principles are the criteria by which we judge a standard as ‘open’ and whether it deserves to be approved for use by government. We identify and contribute to Open Standards for software interoperability and data formats that will help to meet user needs across government and support the delivery of common components. And we collaborate and build networks, both at international summits like this, but also within our own government.

We have, for example, recently strengthened our Technology Leaders Network, to better support the needs of our users: in this case, the technology community.”


Looking to the future

Looking forward, Skidmore went on to say that recruitment is the biggest challenge when it comes to enable further digital transformation.

“Essentially, we must build our capability, to make government the destination of choice for digital data and technology professionals,” he said. “That’s why we have a designated specialised professions team, to support our plans to transform the Civil Service giving government the capability to efficiently deliver citizen-facing services.

“Leanna Jones, Learning and Development Lead at GDS will be leading a workshop to share more about what we have done, and intend to do in the future, to increase digital and technology capability cross government.”

The speech then centred on the new digital strategy, which will be published by the end of this year and last week’s cyber strategy announcement.

Skidmore concluded by saying: “There is still a lot to do, but we’re determined to keep pace with the speed of change. We want to help other governments to build the best public services. To share our code, our methodology, our standards.

“And we want to be open about what we’re doing so that citizens feel confident and empowered, selling to government is competitive and open,

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