Digesting the Government Digital Strategy

Today the Cabinet Office launched the Government-wide digital strategy that marks another step closer to the Martha Lane Fox vision of a ‘digital by default’ government (from where the name of this blog sprung!).

There is *alot* to like in this strategy I think – though it does in places closely coincide with my 4Ps stuff and makes me wonder if its worth continuing that!

Also its great that it was published as HTML be default using a responsive framework. I read it on my Nexus7 and it worked perfectly.

The one thing that struck me as off was the figures around cost-savings. I know everything these days needs to be couched in those terms but in a document that is proposing basing decisions on reliable management information it all feels a little bit ‘back of the fag packet’ and immediately leaves it open to criticism. I also think the comparisons of GOV.UK vs Directgov are a little previous and ill defined (I am a massive fan of the new site and always struggled with Directgov but it still seems too early for those comparisons.)

All that aside there are some things I really, really liked about this strategy.

The focus on people is spot-on I think. In fact I pretty much made my feelings clear on how important I think the right people are for success in digital recently and this really lives up to that.

Actions 1 – 4 in the strategy are a really important step I think. All the improving ‘transactions’ stuff has got all the headlines but from a personal point of view having a high level strategy that endorses the idea of having digital represented at board level, integrated into the Fast Stream programme, digital literacy to be a key component in training for civil servants (at all levels) and a Service Manager role to be created where not only will they be empowered to properly run digital products but will also be recipients of a custom training programme to improve their skills is all music to my ears.

I particularly love the idea of these Service Managers being ’empowered’. There are loads of great people working in digital in the public sector (still) and a constant challenge for all of them is being given the freedom to do what is needed to improve things. The culture of bringing in an outsider to tell the powers that be what you already know is alive and well. Giving these folk the authority (and tools) to make a difference can only be a good thing.

[I will be honest here I *really* like the idea of this Service Manager role and will be very jealous when I see them popping up!]

I’m very pleased to read that GDS are going to be putting these training courses together and generally offering support and advice to projects beyond Aviation House. I think this is vital to help embed all these ideas in organisations a little further away from Holborn.

I am glad to see procurement addressed again in the strategy. I think it is good but not sure it goes far enough – there needs to be much more proactive education of procurement professionals in the public sector about these opportunities to make sure the right advice is given and attempts to be a little more innovative around procurement are supported not stifled.

The ‘Inside Government’ timetable is even more challenging than I expected – getting all the Departments into GOV.UK by March 2013 is one thing but all the NDPBs/ALBs etc by April 2014 seems a little crazy. Good luck though!

There is a lot more in there and it is all worth a read (if you are interested in this kind of thing!). I’m sure there will be lots of feedback from smarter folk than me but for now I say well done and ‘power to the people’ 🙂

2 responses to “Digesting the Government Digital Strategy”

  1. thanks for the comment Tom – sorry if it sounded grumpy about the savings stuff – it is a general moan of mine about the fact everything has to be about savings first rather than just service improvement.

    I do think its a great strategy – ambitious but worthy.

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