Public Services > Central Government

2014: Delivering a digital culture change

Published 06 January 2014

Tim Lloyd, head of digital communications at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, believes 2014 needs to be a key year for digital in government


Now is the time for everyone to get behind digital.

This year is going to be very exciting for anyone in or around government digital: from better technology for public servants, to improved online services and more digital engagement.

At the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) staff are pretty excited about new hardware appearing soon, which should allow us to save precious minutes each day, currently spent waiting for PCs to wake up.

And the continued improvements to online services demonstrates the value of the Government Digital Service (GDS) mantra: Trust. Users. Delivery. Take a look at some of these great examples here .

Digital engagement is close to my heart because it's my day job. I feel like this represents the intersection of IT and online services. Robust, flexible IT should help public servants to talk to their audiences, make better policy and provide more advice. I'm not talking about sending the odd tweet, or running a Facebook page. Better IT will help policy makers and front line staff to have proper conversations online, with real people and communities. It will help staff to build their professional networks, show their department to be human and give the public a clearer line in to the issues that concern them most.

Better online services need to be promoted and supported online, to remind and reassure the public that these services should be so good, they will want to use them. Digital engagement provides an invaluable way to gather feedback and understand what is and isn't working.

With so much good work happening, what is there to fear in 2014?

None of these changes are going to amount to much without a big culture change. It would be all too easy to pick holes in the detail of the changes taking place. 'The new IT won't really be much better', 'we're still not allowed to use social media', 'collaborative tools are just another platform on top of email' and so on.

The truth is that public servants are empowered to use social media for work , organisations recognise the value of collaboration platforms over piles of emails (and if not, staff get on and use them anyway), and teams blog openly about what works, and what doesn't.

This relies on everyone trusting each other to use tools sensibly, to share information appropriately and to learn from mistakes in the digital space, rather than avoid them at all costs.

The precedent has been set and in most cases, the tools are there. The inspiring attitude (JDI, if you will) that is the bedrock of GDS and also apparent in other departments, as well as local authorities , needs to be extended into all corners of Government.

This year we need to deliver a culture change with public servants of all grades becoming digital by default: putting users first and working smarter, not harder.


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