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DWP Digital sets out three-year plan to improve data sharing and cut legacy

In response to the pandemic, the government department aims to improve collaboration and develop a reference architecture

Simon McKinnon, chief digital information officer of DWP Digital, the technology arm of the Department for Work and Pensions, has set out a three-year plan to reimagine digital services.

“We are at the start of an exciting journey to change the way we deliver services,” McKinnon wrote in a post on the DWP’s digital careers website.

While the department’s IT strategy has traditionally been focused on building back-office systems to support the delivery of individual benefits, McKinnon said: “We now want as many of our services delivered through digital means where it makes sense, and where data becomes the lifeblood of how the department operates.”

As Computer Weekly has previously reported, the department has worked on bringing its IT in-house, adopting public clouds and introducing elements such as automation and self-service into DWP’s digital services.

DWP Digital said the new Digital Future strategy is at the heart of a cross-DWP mission to design and deliver services that are critical to tens of millions of people. The overall goal is to make these services more personal, more accurate and more efficient.

The five pillars of the strategy include providing reliable, secure, cost-effective services by enabling what DWP Digital describes as “24/7 delivery of high-performing, sustainable, accessible digital services” for colleagues and customers.

McKinnon acknowledged that the department’s reliance on legacy technology presents significant risks around reliability, security and the limited availability of highly skilled people who can maintain such systems. “To reduce this risk, transformation planning will actively include the decommissioning of existing legacy systems,” he said.

By encouraging greater collaboration across the department, the DWP Digital strategy has set a goal to design and deliver modern digital services. One of the ways it plans to improve collaboration is by addressing data sharing and analytics by using a common data language and modern tools to provide governance and data access.

“To kick-start our journey, we have built shared components as part of our application reference architecture to ensure that the basics are in place,” said McKinnon. “Over the next three years, we’ll look at how the value of these components can be released, and really start making a difference for customers and colleagues.

“We want as many of our services delivered through digital means where it makes sense, and where data becomes the lifeblood of how the department operates. We want to build on the successes of the last few years, which have seen us bring our IT in-house, introduce elements such as automation and self-service to our digital services, and accelerate the adoption of public cloud.”

DWP Digital also plans to introduce what it described as “more structured learning and applied learning experiences and career paths”. McKinnon said this will empower colleagues to take control and own their career progression, learning and development.

Read more about DWP Digital

  • Old software is among the main reasons behind the pension errors affecting 134,000 people, says a House of Commons committee report.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions outlines the approach it is taking to developing user-focused digital services.

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