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Government creates Digital Leaders network

Kathleen Hall

The Cabinet Office has created a Digital Leaders network with representatives from each government department in a move to help accelerate its public services "digital by default" agenda.

Each department has nominated a digital leader who will act as a single point of contact to promote and encourage digital ways of working.

The group will meet once a month to discuss implementation plans and will be chaired by Mike Bracken, director of digital at the Government Digital Service (pictured).

Emer Coleman, deputy director of digital, said the network would help create pan-government co-ordination of the digital-by-default agenda.  

“There is definite commitment there. Most people see it as something quite exciting. Obviously Gov.UK is a great driver for change, and this will create an effective, unified approach,” she said.

“It’s very important each department has a digital strategy, with the [agenda] that has to be something collectively agreed.” 

Rachel Neaman, digital leader at the Department of Health, attended the first meeting of the group. In a blog post she said the network could help digital leaders identify areas of collaboration, reduce duplication and a set of common digital principles. 

“At the strategic level, the mandate is clear and some would say obvious. But the devil is in the detail and as digital leaders we will need to address the complexity head-on and navigate the detail together, whilst never losing sight of the big strategic goal," said Neaman.

“We need culture change and re-education to position policy not as a series of documents, but as products and tools that make a real difference to the public. If this is one of the things the Digital Leaders network can achieve alongside the more concrete deliverables like Gov.UK, that will be real transformative change," she said.

“Unsurprisingly there were many common themes. Excitement at digital being endorsed at board level by the creation of the network; at the opportunity to re-create meaningful services for the public; at making user-centred design a reality. Worries at the level of support and engagement we would receive from departmental boards; at potentially creating chaos rather than simplicity; at not having the right skills and resource to deliver real transformative change. And a real recognition of the power of the group and the need to share intelligence and experiences, to co-create solutions and to work together, not in isolation.”


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