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Public sector organisations not consulting consumers about digital services

Although most public sector organisations agree consulting with the public is essential for digital services development, only a fraction are doing so

Only 12% of public sector organisations are consulting with citizens during the development of digital public services, according to research by Deloitte.

But 86% of public service leaders across the NHS, police and education services believe an open dialogue is essential for the development of digital public services to be successful, with only half having the ability to capture the preferences of the public.

“Our survey found a disconnect between those designing digital public services and those who will use them,” said Joel Bellman, public sector digital partner at Deloitte.  

Many public sector organisations are turning to digital to beat austerity, with 89% saying the reason for adopting these strategies is to cut costs.

“In terms of efficiency and money saved, there is a great deal to gain from digital public services. Citizens are accustomed to excellent digital services in other areas of their lives and do not accept that government is immune from this,” said Bellman.

But only 32% of organisations claimed they were shifting more funding to support the development of digital initiatives, and less than a third had the resources to bring in professionals to help with a digital shift.

Three-quarters did not think their organisations had the right skills to carry out its digital plans for the future, and two-thirds did not think it could keep up with digital trends.

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Many cited difficulties changing culture as main barrier for adopting digital technologies, which in turn makes it difficult to ensure the right skills are in place.

“The technology is there for the public sector to take advantage, yet it lacks the culture, skills, governance and leadership to do so. Public sector organisations need to ramp up their digital skills – just one-quarter saying they have the right skills in place is not a good omen,” said Bellman.

“Funding is clearly going to be difficult in an age of austerity, but digital is a route to long-term savings,” he added.

Almost three-quarters said their organisations rely on outsourcing for digital development, but 83% said their ability to procure services had been limited by procurement rules.

A survey by industry body Tech UK found that although most civil servants did not believe departments have the skills needed for procurement, a significant number now recognise the need for IT in their organisations.

But in the Government Digital Transformation plan, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne proposed that adoption of digital technologies would improve productivity in the UK economy, highlighting the importance of using these technologies moving forward.

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