Cabinet Office identifies Goverment as a Platform as key priority

The expansion of Government as a Platform has been embedded as a key priority in the Cabinet Office single departmental plan (SDP) for 2015-20.

The document, released on Friday, was among a series designed to match up departmental spending settlements with a single set of priorities for the next four years. 

SDPs were announced last year by civil service chief executive John Manzoni, in a bid to offer a “single, clear roadmap” for departments to follow. 

The Cabinet Office document said: “Government as a Platform is an umbrella term for a set of common software components and best practice that government digital teams can use and reuse rather than building from scratch.

“Developers can assemble components best suited to the service they are designing. This will free up digital teams to focus on building and iterating user-centred services, which will be cheaper to run.”

It said that “several shared platforms” are already being built.

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However, the IfG’s deputy director Julian McCrae argued that the new plans would be of limited use.

“The Single Departmental Plans published today were intended to show how the political promises of the Conservative Manifesto and the Spending Review would be turned into reality,” McCrae said.

“It is therefore disappointing to see that the plans are little more than a laundry list of nice to haves, giving no sense of ministerial priorities.

“Worse still, many of these individual priorities are little more than waffle, which is no use to civil servants trying to implement the government’s agenda or to the public trying to hold them to account.”

The Cabinet Office document also promised to lead digital transformation, “providing expert support to departments and agencies and improving Civil Service capability and effectiveness”.

It also committed the department to ensuring digital assistance is available to those without online access.

The department will also focus on reducing losses due to fraud and error through a more digital approach and improved sharing of best practice.

Digital solutions will be required to meet common standards set by the Government Digital Service.

Colin Marrs

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