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Report of the Digital Government Review

Digital Public services to 2020 and beyond

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It would be an error for this report to present detailed plans for how to implement these recommendations. Capabilities and ideas are evolving too fast for plans to be mapped out precisely many years into the future; we are learning more and more as both the UK and other countries around the world build digital services. We also expect many of the key innovations to come from local initiatives rather than top down strategies. It will necessarily be a process of trial and error: of looking for good ideas and cultivating them so that they spread.

Over the next five years, digital technologies will provide many diverse opportunities to innovate and improve our public services. Each will offer a different profile of potential benefits and risks that will need to be managed. A fixation with one initiative, for example moving services online, risks missing out on other opportunities that may be of greater overall value in meeting the desired outcomes.

The figure below shows a potential analytical framework that would be suitable for some initiatives.

Improved Digital Capabilities

Providing better online services across all of government. Rationalising duplicated systems by defining a common architecture and open standards. Gradually coupling together components to build platform(s). Allowing government to work horizontally as well as in silos. More effective procurement and project delivery.

Benefits: Efficiency savings. Consistently good digital services across government. Improved information reliability and quality.

Risks: Scarce resources. Implementation risks with large projects. Ethical risk of sharing and using data across organisations. Differing priorities and accountabilities across public sector. Ensuring all people can benefit.

Collaborative and Open

Encouraging people to participate in design and delivery of services. High quality open datasets and APIs made freely available.   Supporting the growth of new digital communities with government

Benefits: Increased participation between people and the public sector. Innovative new digital services. New private and social enterprise startups that bring innovation and create new jobs. Benefits to communities and wider economy.

Risks: Ensure inclusive approach. Growing participation. Ensuring public trust in government use of data. Encouraging effective reuse.

Improved Public Services

Using digital tools and a common architecture to transform all public services. Applying capabilities across organisational silos, for example integrating health and social care.

Benefits: Efficiency gains through automated data capture and sharing. More effective public services.

Risks: Ensure people-centric service design. Ethical concerns re capture and sharing personal data. Implementation risks of large, complex, service transformations

Data Analytics

Building government use of data and analytical tools to deliver insight to support better deliveries, better policies and better decision making. For example use of health data to identify trends, preventative actions.

Benefits: Some efficiency gains through better resource allocation. More effective decision making and outcomes. Ability to provide personalized services.

Risks: Ethical use of data, in particular personal data. Need for specialist skills.   Poor quality of government data.

Figure 1 – Potential analytical framework for determining benefits

“The next five years offer real opportunity beyond just a technology manifesto….it will be the moment for digital” – Think Tank

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