Patryk Kosmider -

MPs to investigate progress of digital government

Science and technology committee invites evidence for inquiry into spread of digital public services and the role of GDS

MPs have launched an inquiry into the progress of digital government and the role of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is seeking evidence to assess progress on the government’s digital transformation strategy, the digital skills needed in Whitehall and whether effective use is being made of public sector data.

Announcing the inquiry, the committee cited a 2017 Institute for Government report which concluded that the roll-out of digital services has been “slower than planned”.

The MPs want to investigate “how well GDS has helped spread the use of digital services across government”, as well as the “implications for GDS following the move of its data policy and governance functions from the Cabinet Office to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)”.

The inquiry will also look at areas where “further development” is needed in digital government; how well services are protected from cyber attacks; and the “implications and opportunities for GDS arising from Brexit”.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in March 2017 was highly critical of GDS and said the organisation needed to be “clear about its role”.

“There continues to be a risk that GDS is trying to cover too broad a remit with unclear accountabilities,” said the NAO at the time.

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GDS has taken on additional responsibilities since the NAO report was published, including overseeing the digital aspects of Brexit planning and running the £20m GovTech challenge fund, which was announced by the prime minister in November 2017 and consists of a series of challenges around improving public services.

However, the organisation has also lost responsibility for data and digital identity policy to DCMS.

The Science and Technology Committee has asked for written evidence for the inquiry to be submitted by 28 September 2018.

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