Estonian Government learns from UK’s ‘user focus’

A digital leader from the Estonian Government has told Public Technology that his Government can learn “how to be relentless in user focus” from the UK government ahead of his presentation this afternoon at a major event.

Siim Sikkut, ICT Policy Adviser in the Government Office of Estonia’s Strategy Unit will speak this afternoon at ‘Sprint 15’ in London, Government Digital Service’s (GDS) annual conference, alongside Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

The Estonian Government has led the way in digital public services since it regained independence in 1991, and today residents can file a tax return, vote in general elections and set up a new company online. Estonia is the first country in the world to offer government-issued digital identity to non-residents, allowing digital authentication for official documents.

“The things done [by UK Government] resonate well with what has been our experience and lessons learned in building e-Estonia: it is about building up organisation, about openness, about giving people and agencies the tools and platforms”, said Sikkut

The next phase of GDS’s work will see a government-as-a-platform model rolled out, which means it plans to build technology that is more open and more connected to avoid duplication across departments.

Asked what the UK can learn from Estonia in this respect, Sikkut said: “We will be in mutual learning mode. We have had elements of Government as a platform with our X-Road data exchange environment (which enables government databases to communicate) and eID set-up, but there’s so much more we want to do on that front”, he said.

The Estonian Government’s latest initiative is its e-residency programme, which Sikkut described as “a great step in this direction, too – enabling private sector digital innovation”. 

Other speakers include French Secretary of State for Reform and Simplification, Thierry Mandon, former Government Digital Inclusion Champion and GDS Digital Advisory Board member, Baroness Lane Fox of Soho; the Prime Minister’s Adviser on the Digital Economy, Baroness Joanna Shields; and HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer, Mark Dearnley

Around 450 members of Government departments, technology companies and journalists from here and abroad will attend the half-day event.




Mel Poluck

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