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Report of the Digital Government Review


Specialisms: the need to cultivate and retain digital experts

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The lack of career paths for digital experts coupled with years of outsourcing has led to a scarcity of digital skills amongst senior staff. Many departments have recognised that they need to bring in digital expertise so that they can build great services and can manage the complex transformation programmes required to modernize the organisations that deliver them.

Even where services are bought in from suppliers or service delivery is outsourced, it is necessary for the public sector to have sufficient skills and experience to be able to ask the right questions. Core skills such as procurement knowledge, change and technical programme management, digital architecture, and design are essential even if development and delivery are performed externally.

The growth of data analytics will also require government to focus on those skills. In the early days of exploring this area it will be important for organisations to build internal capabilities rather than be forced to rely on external organisations.

As well as classic digital and data analytics skills, other new roles will emerge as government becomes more digital, open and participatory: researchers to gather and interpret people’s needs; designers to build beautiful services; and engagement managers to form digital communities. It should be possible for existing public sector workers to move into these roles with appropriate training and career development opportunities.

These are all valuable skills on the open market: an important point when it comes to the perception and desirability of public sector work. It is vital to attract and to retain good people, and this will need government to provide both the opportunity for skills development and competitive salaries.

Traditionally, senior civil service roles with higher salaries have required generalist policy development skills. In addition to these senior generalists, we must recognize the need for those with specialised digital skills – and for the higher

Recommendation 32

Priority: High

Recognise the need for and value of digital specialists by offering appropriate salaries, training opportunities and building career paths to senior grades.

It may be appropriate to use the model of decentralized specialized communities such as the GSS (Government Statistical Service) or GES (Government Economics Service) for both professional development and as a community of common interest. GSS may be the right starting point for a data analysis specialism.

“Set up a dedicated Advanced Analytics Team (AAT) within the Cabinet Office, working closely with BIS, data protection teams, and CTOs to spread innovation, best practice and common standards” – Large Company

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