As it’s the end of the year, we’re taking you through the most popular stories of 2016, in – as is traditional – reverse order.
We’re kicking off this year’s chart with a story that sets the tone for a large chunk of 2016: major changes in Whitehall’s digital set that sent the rumour mills flying. There’s much more of this throughout the top ten, but we start with a warning from one departing civil servant that central government’s digital agenda was being undermined by a lack of effective leadership and poor skills training for civil servants.
Still in the digital reshuffle, next up is PublicTechnology breaking the news that the Department for Work and Pensions would not be recruiting a replacement for Kevin Cunnington after he left his role as director-general of business transformation. Instead, the department rolled his responsibilities into a beefed-up role for Mayank Prakash.
Moving to local government, the eighth spot is the Scottish Borders Council signing up to a £92m digital-services deal with IT and outsourcing giant CGI off the back of a contract with neighbouring City of Edinburgh Council.
Of course, Brexit was the biggest news story of the year in the UK. No surprise, then, that PublicTechnology’s take has made it into the top ten.
A running theme of 2016 has been the growing need to make working in digital government more attractive than the pull of the private sector pay cheque. This story is the loss of one of Whitehall’s big hitters at a crucial time for the department in question.
As promised, we return to the digital reshuffle: and this is the one that kicked it all off. It’s the shock departure of Stephen Foreshew-Cain as leader of the Government Digital Service – he was replaced by the aforementioned Kevin Cunnington, and discussions about the future of GDS formed one of the biggest news threads of the year – and have still not been put to bed.
Universal Credit has had its fair share of headlines this year – from the box office to the nationals – and it was no exception on PublicTechnology, where our fourth most popular story was a feature looking at why councils watchdogs believed councils needed more time and information to make delivery a success.
Casting our minds right back to January, there’s the news that Cornwall Council could begin insourcing ICT staff after BT Cornwall failed to gain an injunction preventing the termination of a 10-year outsourcing deal.
At two we have the government’s planned redesign of the civil service jobs website, saying that the existing site was not meeting user needs.
And the most-read story of the year is the news that the Department of Work and Pensions was trialling Blockchain technology to distribute benefits, garnering a strong reaction from observers in the tech community along the way.