Public Services > Central Government

GDS to update and rename Digital Service Standard

David Bicknell Published 28 September 2017

New version set to be renamed ‘Government Service Standard’ and go beyond transactional digital services to examine end-to-end services; will also advise on use of registers, common platforms, components and patterns


The Government Digital Service (GDS) is in the process of revising the Digital Service Standard and plans to rename it.

According to a blog post , it will move beyond the current focus of the standard, transactional digital services, to examine other elements of the end-to-end service. 

It also plans to rename the standards as the ‘Government Service Standard’.

The standard came into force in 2014 and is intended to help government build and run effective, user-focused digital services. All public-facing transactional services must meet standard with hundreds of assessments having been run against it since it was introduced.

It was last updated in 2015 when its 26 points were reduced to 18.

The update is necessary, the blog says, because the way government thinks about services is changing, moving way from looking at isolated transactions to looking at whole, end-to-end services as users understand them.  The blog says a new standard is needed that will support and encourage this next phase of work.

The update is still work in progress, with discussions taking place both inside and outside GDS, including the cross-government service assessors’ network. GDS says it has developed some ideas on how to take the standard forward, but now wants to consult with those involved in delivering government services.

The blog argues that a revised standard could help encourage service teams to bring operational colleagues into their decision-making, so that there are more opportunities for caseworkers, call centre staff and other operational specialists to use their knowledge and expertise to help shape services.

The blog said, “We want to make it clear that everything the user interacts with is part of the service – the content on GOV.UK as well as the transactional part of the service. And we’re looking at how we can make transforming back-end technology and processes part of the picture.”

It went on, “Since the last version of the standard was published, government has introduced registers – authoritative data sets that can help form the infrastructure that underpins government services. Plus common components to help teams build services more efficiently, like GOV.UK Pay and GOV.UK Notify. We want the new version of the standard to make it clear when it’s appropriate to make use of registers, common platforms, components and patterns.

“And we want to put more emphasis on setting up your service so it’s as easy as possible to reconfigure, to meet changing user needs and adapt to new technologies.”

Discussing legacy, the blog said, “Legacy is a big challenge for many government services. Not just legacy technology: there’s a lot of legacy content on GOV.UK, for example.

“For service teams dealing with significant legacy problems, it may not make sense to transform everything at once. In some situations, an ‘archaeological’ approach might work better: uncovering and fixing the layers of complexity one at a time.”

GDS plans to run a series of workshops to discuss the standard next month in London, Sheffield and Newport. 

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