Government should take agile approach to policy and service delivery, says Hancock

The future of service delivery and policy making will be more focused around an agile approach, said Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock

The future of government service delivery and policy making will be increasingly focused around an agile approach, said new Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock.

Speaking at the Institute for Government, Hancock hailed the development of digital services during the last government, such as the Gov.uk website and online identity system Verify, as an illustration of how the Cabinet Office is “leading by example” on matters of providing solutions.

“Small teams of developers building a product quickly and cheaply then iterating to improve it, not through long consultations and private advice but by seeing how it survives contact with reality,” said Hancock.

“It will more and more be the way of the future – not just in digital but for all policy-making and service delivery.”

Hancock said the next steps for the Cabinet Office will be to deliver a better government and society by acting as a “cohesive centre” for government to challenge and support the Cabinet.

The minister outlined how better delivery of services more focused on the needs of users will help to drive forward savings, and backed up his predecessor Francis Maude’s ideas around  government as a platform, and the formation of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

“GDS came in to challenge and to really push the boundaries of what could be done. It has now five years later established itself with some very positive results and a track record for delivering much better services much more cheaply than before.” said Hancock.

Read more about GDS

  • The question over whether the Government Digital Service (GDS) can scale locally was discussed at a debate on government digital policies.
  • GDS outlined plans for its Digital Marketplace where the public sector can go to procure all IT and digital services in future.

“That means it now has the opportunity to go into areas that it hasn’t before and support departments and say to departments, ‘You know you’ve got a tech-based challenge here, let us come and help you deliver it’, and putting in a platform right across government on which services can be built.”

Hancock took up his role at the Cabinet Office in the Prime Minister’s recent post-election Cabinet reshuffle, where he took over from GDS creator Francis Maude.

“Whether it’s apprenticeships or a GP appointment when you want one or a good local school for your children or an easier morning commute or secure family finances or an economy that allows wealth creation to thrive, these are in fact the goals of civil service reform.” said Hancock.

“It is our job both as ministers and also as civil servants to make the system that delivers these goals the best it can be.”

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