The government aims to have 90% of the UK’s online population using digital public services by 2020, thanks to a programme of cross-Whitehall platforms to be developed during the next parliamentary cycle.
At the heart of the Cabinet Office's plan, published yesterday alongside the autumn budget statement, is the recently launched Gov.UK Verify identity assurance system, and a new common payments platform due for release in 2016.
The Efficiency and reform in the next Parliament report sets out the Cabinet Office goals for cutting costs and improving efficiency across the government’s digital, procurement and property estates, plus major projects, fraud and the Civil Service workforce. The report effectively sets out the high-level targets for the Government Digital Service (GDS) over the next five years.
“The government’s aspiration is simple: dealing with government online should be as easy and efficient as the best services on offer from the private sector,” said the report.
"Government will aim to provide a series of cross-departmental digital platforms by 2020, covering services such as payments, messaging, and appointments booking, to behind-the-scenes platforms to keep information secure, provide post code lookups and location data, and provide stronger protection against cyber-attacks.”
By 2016, the new payments platform will allow payments to government via mobile devices including smartphones – currently, every department uses its own system to receive payments from the public.
Every new digital service will offer an application programming interface (API) so private sector providers can integrate government services into their own offering. For example, car insurance firms could allow motorists to pay for car tax when they buy their insurance online.
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A government chief data officer will be appointed for the first time to define data standards for the public sector and push the open data programme.
The move to cloud services will be “accelerated”, and more digital skills will be brought into the Civil Service through the creation of regional hubs across the country. HM Revenue & Customs, for example, has already set up a digital hub in Newcastle.
The report reiterates the importance of digital technologies to achieve the considerable public sector cost cuts required to balance the government’s books by 2020 – regardless of which political party wins the 2015 general election.
“A modern, internet-based approach can more than halve the cost of providing technology to civil servants,” the report said.
“While all providers will continue to compete on a level playing field for government contracts, this approach will continue to support the vibrant UK digital economy and innovative digital SMEs, and unlock substantial efficiency savings for government.”