18 UK government departments commit to new digital strategies to improve services for citizens

18 UK government departments commit to new digital strategies to improve services for citizens

The UK government has been hard at work this year to turn around the digital ways in which the public can find services and information more easily.

Earlier this year the Government Digital Service (GDS) set out guidelines that were so popular that even Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly media applauded them and encouraged other governments to take them up.

Already Businesslink and Direct.gov have been turned around and are now available under one digital roof as Gov.uk and today, 18 government departments have published their own digital strategies – so now they all have homework to do.

In a blog post on the GDS site, Tom Loosemore, Deputy Director at GDS explains that the digital strategies point out how each department will change to become ‘digital by default’.

The departments setting out their strategies include the department of health, the ministries of justice and defense, departments of transport, work and pensions and well, you get the idea. The full list is here and it’s a huge amount of work.

The GDS has set quite the pace for changing the digital ways in which we can work with government departments. So the strategies set out today are likely to be chased down by the department in ways that might be more familiar coming from startups and small businesses.

Many services and transactions are a part of daily lives for citizens in the UK and so getting the services right online will be mandatory. Loosemore’s own example in his blog post points out that HMRC (the tax department) is aiming to simplify the way in which 30+ million PAYE taxpayers can report changes to their tax codes for themselves, rather than having to make a call or write a letter.

The bottom line is that the government hopes this will save UK citizens money – a lot of money. In fact The Digital Strategy set out by Francis Maud, Minister for the Cabinet Office, says that the government can make up to £1.2 billion in savings by 2015 by making everyday transactions digital.

As so many of us complete our work online these days, it might seem that getting the UK government services into the digital realm has taken its time. But considering the breadth and scope of work that needs to be done and the training involved for staff and ministers to support the changes, the GDS is making a fair go of the job.

Let’s hope that all 18 departments ask how high when the Government Digital Service tells them when to jump.

Image Credit: Dave Stokes/ Flickr

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