Public Services

Anniversary reboot for Government Transformation

Rob Anderson Published 09 February 2018

Rob Anderson discusses the progress one year on of the government's Transformation Strategy


The Government Transformation Strategy was published exactly a year ago today and a new GDS blog purports to show what a successful year it has been in executing the plans. The post features a video espousing the benefits of the strategy to the Department for International Trade as an example of success. You'd expect that a new department with no legacy technology baggage would use GDS processes and guidelines to build its supporting IT platforms, so it's an easy win, but not exactly transformational.

In the blog, Kevin Cunnington discusses the progress made over the last 12 months and unsurprisingly focuses on the GaaP components that have gained traction, like Notify.Gov and GovWifi. Both have enabled improved services, externally and within the public sector respectively. However, the two key building blocks to a radical transformation of public services - identity assurance with Gov.Verify, and the better use of data - remain troublesome and are all but glossed over.

The Transformation Strategy documented a bold pledge to reach 25 million users by 2020, but increased uptake is slow. As of 31st December, the number of Verify accounts stood at 1.82 million and if the current rate of growth is maintained that would deliver just 11 million users by the end of the decade. There is still much debate amongst seasoned professionals of the best way to achieve a common form of identity authentication. The feeling persists that an opportunity has been missed to collaborate with the private sector, particularly financial services organisations. Expect this to rumble on, causing further hand-wringing and delays.

On data, Cunnington talks of the 26 registers now in use across government, but there's still not been a step-change in true data sharing to deliver more joined-up services. Ownership of the problem now looks to have slipped from GDS's grasp to be championed by DCMS. Let's hope it's not just a titular move and that a CDO for government is appointed soon with the authority to drive a clear collaborative data strategy.


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