Digital capability drive is key focus for government departments, says GDS

Digital capability has been a key focus for the Government Digital Service Strategy with the Ministry of Justice recruiting a 40-strong service

Digital capability has been a key focus for departments responding to the Government Digital Service (GDS) Strategy so far this year, with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) recruiting to a 40-strong Digital Service Division.

The update comes in the GDS quarterly response to the 14 actions set out for government departments in its strategy at the end of last year.

The MoJ’s digital team is intended to redesign digital services within the department, and includes developers, designers, product/service managers, delivery managers, strategy advisors, portfolio managers and content designers.

The Department of Health is also expanding its digital team, having appointed a product manager and an operations manager to develop and manage digital services. 

The Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence are also working up proposals for digital units, said the progress report.

The need to build IT capability within departments has been highlighted as the most important factor in driving through technology transformation across Whitehall and avoiding the IT disasters of the past.

However, other departments are less advanced in deciding how to resource future digital service developments, said the GDS progress report.

In its strategy, the GDS required major transactional departments to identify "exemplar" services for transformation, with 23 exemplar services identified in departmental strategies. Work has begun on 15 of these, with nine at alpha/beta delivery stages, four in the discovery phase, and two at the initial engagement stage. “We expect the remainder to move into discovery by the end of June,” said the report.

But it said some challenges and issues were beginning to emerge: “At a strategic level, the need to look beyond the specific project work to identify how the wider organisational structure, design or culture will need to be transformed and adapted to ensure that new ways of working are supported and sustained longer-term; and at the practical and logistical levels, ensuring that departments are geared up to work effectively with GDS and begin work quickly. 

"This includes steps like putting the right development environment in place upfront to avoiding holding back the project teams’ work; and more broadly building mutual understanding about underpinning issues like information security.”


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