Public Services > Central Government

Accelerating towards a digital future

Mike Bracken Published 21 December 2012

In a guest column, Mike Bracken, Executive Director of the Government Digital Service, looks back on a busy 2012 and previews some highlights for 2013


In 2012 the Government Digital Service delivered on our commitments. The highlights included the release of GOV.UK , the single domain for government, the publication of the Government Digital Strategy and the release today of the governments' Department Digital Strategies .

Each department now has its own digital strategy, forming the roadmap for service transformation in 2013. This is the ambition statement for the reform of public services which will create a new generation of digital services so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so.

This year also saw the IT Reform Group merge with GDS as part of the Transformation team in Cabinet Office. Already the group have saved close to £600m working with departments to realign technology programmes around user need and we expect to drive out considerable further savings in 2013 across the government IT estate.

I very much welcome the recent appointment of Liam Maxwell as Government CTO and look forward to working with Liam and his team in 2013 to continue to reduce complexity, vendor lock-in and substantially lower the cost per transaction of public services.

In 2013 we will continue to move departments and agencies onto GOV.UK, as that work has only started . This migration will increase functionality, drive down cost and focus on meeting user needs. We will continue to add more functionality to that platform, and this will be complemented by our performance platform which will add a layer of data and analysis to all services. We will look to improve user journeys across the platform, add more transactional services and offer richer functionality, especially social features.

Equally as important is our ability to support departments and agencies in transforming mainstream transactions. We will provide a rounded offer of development and service management skills, plus business re-engineering and agile process assistance. Our design and creative teams will ensure a simple, consistent and beautiful experience for all users, and our transformation team will open up these transactions to new suppliers, unleashing a wave of commercial activity as we look to engage SME's and the growing digital development sector. We will develop more cloud based procurement and commissioning opportunities and look to drive down technology costs.

Key highlights to look forward to in 2013 include:

-Publication of the digital service standard in the first quarter of 2013, which will set out a quality mark and show the work in progress on all Government digital services

-Frequent releases of identity services, which will bring a marketplace of trusted providers to Government services for the first time

-Many alpha, beta and full transaction releases, as we start to build and co-deliver new transactions with departments.

-Improved assisted digital services, in line with our strategy, which will stimulate new market players

The digital future in 2013 will be distributed across Government, and we aim to support all departments and agencies to deliver their digital strategies and transform their services. We will do this in ways suitable for each organisation, using a pragmatic 'For you, with or by you' model to complement their skills and capacity. We will spend much time and effort in bringing new skills into Government, and we will do it all based on open standards technology choices and rapid-release alphas and betas.

We will support the growing number of digital leaders and service managers across Government, and together we will continue to demonstrate that cross Government collaboration is the only way to deliver real user benefits. Together, we will iterate wildly. It's going to be a great year.

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