IFG - Progress on digital government 'painfully slow'

22 Jun 2017 09:13 AM

A new report argues the digitisation of government and public services is happening too slowly in the UK.

Published yesterday by the Institute for Government, Improving the management of digital government says that appointing a minister responsible for digital government would help drive change and advance standards. Digital improvements would make government cheaper, more effective and more secure.

The report points to the recent NHS cyber-attack as an example of the fragility in some systems being used in the public sector.

The report also warns that the Government Digital Service (GDS), the Cabinet Office unit responsible for leading digital transformation of government, faces resistance from many corners of Whitehall.

Without a strong minister in charge, GDS is not able to drive digital improvements in a way that meets citizens’ expectations. It sets standards for digital government, but they need to be improved and extended more widely throughout Whitehall. These standards need to set the agenda more clearly with contractors.

The report makes several recommendations for both GDS and wider departments on how they can work better together. The Government needs to organise services around people’s needs and urgently clarify which system citizens should use to securely identify themselves.

Daniel Thornton, report author, said:

“The recent cyber-attack on the NHS shows that the Government must urgently improve digital government. A minister for digital government should be appointed, as it is not yet clear which minister leads this work.

“What is clear is that progress on digital government continues to be painfully slow. GDS standards have been effective but need to be clarified and extended so that public services can be securely organised around the needs of citizens.”

Notes to editors

  1. The full paper can be found here 
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. For more information, please contact nicole@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 07850313791.

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