In the UK, ICT in central government is heading in one direction only – towards the cloud.
If you’re going to make a rod for your own back, it’s a good idea to create it from the most flexible material possible.
The government’s Digital by Default strategy is beginning to reap major rewards. Central government departments have developed many new digital delivery models, enabling them to provide better online services for less.
“2014 needs to be a key year for digital in government”. That’s the conclusion drawn by Tim Lloyd, the Department for Business’s head of digital communications, writing for the Government Computing website.
In October 2013, the Department for Communities and Local Government released Local Digital Today, an in-depth research report into councils’ attitudes towards using digital to improve local public services. It is an important snapshot of the sector, particularly as central government is encouraging the adoption of a ‘Digital by Default’ agenda when providing services.
One of the most significant outcomes of the Digital by Default agenda is the impetus it has given to government departments to digitise their stakeholder engagement strategies. A common thread is one using digital stakeholder engagement to empower open policy making. It’s a significant step forward, and meets a need at the heart of government, as the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) explains:
The UK government’s ‘Digital by Default’ agenda is helping the creation of new digital services for the public and is also transforming the culture of government departments. One of the primary ways departments want to change is by embracing digital ways of communicating internally. Again, a quick glance at departmental digital strategies reveals related aspirations.
Motivated by the ‘Digital by Default’ agenda, UK government departments are investing significant resources in new digital strategies. The overriding aim is to ensure the public sector delivers digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that those who can use them will always choose to do so.
The new Digital by Default agenda in the public sector has unleashed a tidal wave of experimentation. Because public sector organisations are being encouraged to move to Cloud software – rather than relying exclusively on expensive, clunky, on-premise systems – many are trying out these solutions for a wide range of purposes.
When Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude published the UK Government’s Digital Strategy in November 2012, Havant Borough Council was quick to put some of its recommendations into practice.