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Future GDS plans to be announced before Christmas 2015

The Government Digital Service (GDS) will publish further plans on the future of digital government by Christmas 2015

The Government Digital Service (GDS) will announce its strategy going forward by Christmas 2015, according to Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary George Bridges.

Speaking in the House of Lords earlier this month, Bridges said the government is “100% committed to the digital strategy set out in the previous parliament and to the vision of government as a platform [GaaP]”.

Following on from former GDS chief Mike Bracken’s departure in September, questions have been raised about the future of GDS and its delivery of a digital government.

In his exit interview with Computer Weekly, Bracken highlighted tension between Whitehall departments and GDS as a factor in his decision to leave, warning about the risks of “reverting back to mandarin-led lands of authority”.

Deputy director of government technology Andy Beale also recently said earlier this month that the GDS is “going to be in a different mode” as it moves into a new phase of development. Exactly what this new phase entails, and the future of the GaaP programme, will depend on the spending review in November.

However, Bridges said “the plans to create government as a platform continue”.

“I can say that we are utterly committed and remain committed to the strategy that was set out in the last parliament. Plans will be announced before Christmas that will set out our strategy,” he said.

“From my own experience in the private sector it is right that the entire organisation continues to embrace digital technology and build government as a platform.”

However, when asked a question from Dianne Hayter on whether he could guarantee there will be no cuts to GDS, Bridges said he couldn’t predict the outcome of the spending review.

He also said he is “surprised that we still have silos of data that we do not use and do not mine, and we need to continue to make the data more open and more available”, and that the government will continue to improve the use of data.

As reported by Computer Weekly in September, GDS is also setting up training courses for civil service leaders to teach them about the principles of digital transformation in public services.

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