GDS says service assurance discovery will report soon

The Government Digital Service has set up an advice and assurance community to discuss issues about digital standards, as it comes to the end of a discovery project on service standards assessment.

The advice and assurance community meeting to discuss new systems – Photo credit: GDS 

The Treasury first set out spending controls for IT and digital projects as far back as 2010, and the Digital Service Standard and Technology Code of Practice were brought in a few years later to make it clear what was expected of departments’ tech services.

However, some departments find meeting the standards difficult or time consuming, and the standards assurance service team has indicated it is rethinking the process to encourage teams to think about the standards earlier on.

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“We thought there must be a better way to assure and help technology investment,” said Chad Bond, head of service standards assurance, and Roger Bearpark, head of technology advisers at GDS, in a blogpost.

“The aim was to encourage earlier engagement and greater collaboration, using clear standards such as the Technology Code of Practice and Digital Service Standard to assess pipelines of upcoming technology investments.”

They worked with the Technology Leaders and Digital Leaders networks within government to run a discovery with what they describe as a “large department” to look at the benefits of the idea.

This was then used to push for a larger pilot across three departments over the course of six months – these pilots are concluding soon, the pair said.

They said that more information would be available after the results have been analysed.

“We are not going to write a policy that impacts government and expect it to conform. This should be a gradual, iterative process built on the needs and inherent systems used within departments,” Bond and Bearpark wrote.

As part of this, they have set up an advice and assurance community for people managing governance and financial decisions on technology across government.

The pair said that more than 50 people have attended the meetings – the second of which was held this month – and that they were holding workshops to build consensus and test approaches and systems.

“We were all working towards achieving the same goal: making things better and transforming technology approvals in government,” the blogpost said.

The group is still open for members, and the post said that anyone wanting to join needs to request access using their government email address.

The blogpost comes just a day after one from Emily Hall-Strutt, product manager for service standard assessments for internal products at the Ministry of Justice, which criticised the assessment process used to ensure products are meeting the standards.

Describing it as a “pretty painful” process that “caused disruption to delivery and stress for teams, Hall-Strutt said the MoJ was trialling “continuous service review”, where a peer reviewer would sit in on a project throughout design and delivery to ensure they meet the standard as the project goes along.

Hall-Strutt said that her team had been in communication with GDS about the work, acknowledging that the group was running its own discovery process.

A spokeswoman for GDS confirmed to PublicTechnology that the team had finished that discovery process but that it was not yet in the position to discuss the outcome.


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