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Departments handed manual for digital services redesign

Kathleen Hall

The government has released a design manual for chief technology officers redesigning Whitehall digital services, as contracts with existing system integrators begin to expire from 2014.

The Government Service Design Manual has mapped Whitehall technology into four areas, mission IT systems, digital public services, infrastructure and back office functions.

Liam Maxwell, government chief technology officer, told Computer Weekly the aim was to identify common user needs across government.

“I think this is a really defining moment. Because up to now everyone has done it their own way," Maxwell said.

“This is the first time anyone’s said: 'This is how we all think we should do this as a collective group and this is the way technology should be delivered in the future'.”

The move follows a recent technology leadership shake-up in Whitehall, with the axing of the central CIO role and elevation of CTOs and digital leaders as key to driving technology change across government.

This is the first time anyone’s sat down and said... this is the way technology should be delivered in the future

Liam Maxwell, government CTO

Maxwell said the manual would enable a platform approach to technology. 

"The point is each department does the same thing, and if you can make it common, you can take those services and redesign them,” he said.

Maxwell wants the manual to redefine the perception of the Cabinet Office as a spend control function, with departments subject to central approval for all spend above £5m. 

“This is about saying: 'We are from the centre, we are here to help'. And we are already helping with co-delivery [of projects], sponsorship and helping departments move, from very large programmes to moving them to a place where they are able to save money.

“This is us moving away from simply saying ‘let’s stop things’ and outlining how we can create a new digital government based around user needs."

Maxwell praised the G-Cloud for opening the supplier market, adding that the aim now is to embed open standards, open data and open source.

“It’s a resource that gives permission for people to work in a modern way,” he said.

Maxwell said the manual would act as a living set of documents: “We will change it as things adapt, so it will be a resource people can use.”

The guides were written by the Government Digital Service, with input from the CTO Executive Group and other stakeholders in government such as CESG.

 


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