Canada plans GDS-style digital unit

Canada’s 2017 Budget has indicated that the government will set up a digital unit similar to central digital services in the UK and US.

The Canadian government has announced a GDS-style unit – Photo credit: Pexels

The budget, which was published yesterday (22 March), said that the government needed to use digital technologies to improve public services for both businesses and citizens.

“The government has an opportunity – and a responsibility – to lead the way when it comes to digital innovation to support more widespread adoption of digital tools, and to better serve Canadians,” the document stated.

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The Canadian government said its digital work would be informed by the US’s Digital Service and 18F, and the UK’s Government Digital Service.

It will be used to help adopt new ways of service the public, the budget document said.

“Better use of digital technologies could improve the ways in which businesses can access government services, speed up immigration processing times through better-integrated information, or make it easier for Canadians to access benefits or tax information online,” it said.

Ryan Androsoff, a senior advisor on digital government for the Canadian government, shared the news on social media, saying that “now the hard, but important, work begins”.

The news was also welcomed by UK commentators, including GDS developer David Heath, who said on Twitter that it was “great news”, and former GDS founder Tom Loosemore.

Meanwhile, Simon Wardley, creator of Wardley value chain mapping, advised the Canadian service to set up spend controls, saying that without it the service would “go nowhere”. 

The comment comes as the GDS’ Kevin Cunnington told PublicTechnology that the UK government’s own spend controls on digital projects would no longer be controlled on cost, but instead based on consultations with departments on their 15-month roadmaps.


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