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Report of the Digital Government Review


Competency framework: the need to recognise digital skills

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The current Civil Service competency framework [173] discusses the need for civil servants to be able to “improve policy implementation” using “alternative delivery models including digital and shared service approaches”.

We would suggest that this needs updating on two fronts: the civil service is not simply “implementing policy”, but is delivering public services; and digital is not an “alternative” delivery model.

Today, digital is a part of the way we all work. The people delivering services use computers, IT systems and telephones. So do the people receiving these services. A call centre is using digital technologies. A website is using digital technologies. Unless they are writing by hand, someone writing a document is using digital technology. The statement that digital is an alternative delivery model is like suggesting that “electricity” or “water” are alternative delivery models. We need to see digital as just a part of the way we all work.

We also need all of our civil service to have basic digital skills. We need senior staff who can work within and lead the major transformation programmes that digital is creating. Some departments are recognising this – for example DWP are building digital academies [174] – but this needs to be a structured programme to attract, grow and retain skills across the public sector.

We can start by providing stronger recognition for digital skills in the competency framework.

Recommendation 31

Priority: Medium

Complete the update of the civil service competency framework to recognize the need for basic digital skills at all levels and the ability to deliver on or work within transformation programmes at higher levels

“Better Ways of Working should be a core objective of the Efficiency and Reform Cabinet Committee and a Better Ways of Working cross-departmental team led by permanent secretaries and ministers should be established” – Large Company

[173] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307630/Civil-Service-Competency-Framework-Jan2013.pdf
[174] http://www.civilserviceworld.com/nelson-dwp-is-creating-digital-academy-to-grow-technology-skills

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