From leaders to landscapes: the government digital strategy

This week has seen the publication of the Government Digital Strategy that will see government use of and approach to digital transformed over the next few years. Action will focus on:

  • Improving departmental digital leadership

  • Developing digital capability throughout the civil service

  • Redesigning transactional services to meet a new digital by default service standard

  • Completing the transition to GOV.UK

  • Increasing the number of people who use digital services

  • Providing consistent services for people who have rarely or never been online

  • Broadening the range of those tendering to supply digital services including more small and medium-sized enterprises

  • Build common technology platforms for digital by default services

  • Remove unnecessary legislative barriers

  • Base service decisions on accurate and timely management information

  • Improve the way that the government makes policy and communicates with people

Obviously, I’ll have a direct interest in the last point, and I look forward to seeing how our abilities develop further.  As is the case with GDS, they’ve opened up the process, and their blog has focused on how the strategy was delivered as a website, and it’s great the way that video case studies and arguments are integrated into that, with this one featuring Martha Lane Fox and others arguing the case for the role of the digital leader and the need for board level commitment to change.

And that board level commitment is needed so that policy makers can begin to really take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital..  That’s backed up by some real commitments to train senior managers.  And, in the video for that set of Actions we hear directly from the person who developed the Prime Minister’s dashboard that’s been in the news this week.

Reading back over Martha’s initial  review of Directgov which sparked this whole process off two years ago, it’s obvious that the real work to implement her vision is only just getting underway. GOV.UK has just been an appetiser, and the next year will see individual agencies make the transition, while the move to improve and digitise transactional services will begin in earnest.  It’s particularly telling that, while more of us are happy to shop and bank online for instance, the strategy’s accompanying research shows we  haven’t embraced the same tools for dealing with government.

But for me one of the most fascinating bits of the strategy is one of the documents that accompanied it, and what it tells us about the attitudes towards  transactional government services: the digital landscape report.

This graphic shows broad groupings of where those of us who don’t use government digital services online tend to sit.

Figure 9

I’d like to see more detail on this particular piece of analysis, but  there are some interesting similarities with attitudes to science that I’ve discussed before, with degrees of confidence, interest and engagement.  The real usefulness of the groupings though is if we can take a further step and work out what their those broad attitudinal tendencies tell us about how people can be persuaded to change.

And if I’m relating this back to myself, then I’m probably closest to a category 6 confident explorer – but my reason for not using government online transactional services isn’t there – I’ve just never needed to yet.  Hopefully by the time I do, this strategy will mean that it’s a painless experience.

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