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Report of the Digital Government Review

So why isn’t all this already happening?

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While its benefits may be indisputable, building an architecture and set of standards is extremely complex. Many organisations have tried and failed – and it is vital not to underestimate the challenges and complexities involved.

Good architectures and standards have been successfully built, however. To give just three simple examples: (1) the telecommunications services, (2) the Internet, and (3) the World Wide Web.

These are things that every digitally included individual enjoys – and they are all based on common sets of standards that have been incrementally developed over the years. Mistakes were made during this process, and occasionally over-rigid documents will have been produced (immense, exhaustive and exhausting manuals are one of the traditional hazards of working around systems architecture) – but the results are there for all of us to see and enjoy.

Of course, a government needs to provide a wide range of services far more complex than most private sector organisations: a complexity resulting both from the multi-layered nature of our democracy, and the need to provide services to everyone in society. Any open architecture and set of standards must be able to support this range, and the diverse feedback loops that these services create.

“HMRC systems are 125+ interlocking processing systems, a few of which may pre-date the Internet! To deliver government on an App is likely to lead to de-commissioning and re-write, or system failure and re-write” – Trade Union

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