GDS outlines local government aims

The Government Digital Service intends to use the next five years developing common tools which can be used to reduce duplicate technologies across central and local government.

Speaking at the Socitm annual conference in Leicester, Felicity Singleton, enabling strategy programme director, at GDS, admitted that her team didn’t engage with local government during the last five years.

But she said that government as a platform was a good opportunity to break down silos and to improve the speed at which government can implement service redesign.

She said: “The last parliament was about transforming individual services, building capability. within government.

“Now, as skilled and empowered teams in departments transform services, we’re looking forward to providing cross-government support including for local government.”

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Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, had challenged Singleton by saying he didn’t recognise the involvement of local government in some of the achievements of GDS that she had listed.

He said: “You have a lot of work to do in recognising the importance of place. The fact that people live in places where services come together involving a multitude of organisations, local, central, private, public, voluntary sector. Particularly in health and social care.”

Responding, Singleton said: “I agree that local government and health are areas where we haven’t been engaged with in past five years. In some ways quite deliberately . The remit of GDS has been to focus on central government. That has been quite a challenge, it has to be said, and has kept us quite busy over the past five years.”

She said that there was a recognition that in future that dialogue would be needed in order to deliver true government as a platform.

“To buy a new car currently I would have to go to DVLA to register it, then go to the local authority to get a parking permit. Then I need to buy insurance. Those processes are currently separate and siloed. We should be able to get to a place where that is much better joined up.”

She said that GDS is currently working on a new way of taking payments which would be available across all services including local government.

Other work will include developing common status tracking and notifications to allow citizens to know the status of contacts they have made with government organisations.

She also said that the GDS was in the early stages of “operationalising data” to help build services more effectively.

Colin Marrs

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