Government’s Digital Service Standard to get major overhaul and rebrand

Newly named Government Service Standard to broaden focus beyond discrete transactions

Before launching the Government Service Standard, GDS is asking for input from service-delivery professionals across the public sector  Credit: GDS

The government’s Digital Service Standard is to be renamed the Government Service Standard, to reflect an ongoing revamp that will see its focus broadened beyond just transactional services.

The standard was first introduced in April 2014 and a year later it was rejigged, as part of which it was streamlined from 26 points down to 18. Since then it has been unchanged, but the Government Digital Service has announced that it is now working on a redesign.

The new-look standard will aim to reflect that “the way government thinks about services is changing,” GDS said.

The government’s ultimate aim is to build a standard that caters not just to single interactions, but rather to “end-to-end services… as users understand them”. 

“We want to make it clear that everything the user interacts with is part of the service – the content on GOV.UK, as well as the transactional part of the service,” GDS added. “And we’re looking at how we can make transforming back-end technology and processes part of the picture.”

One aim of the redesign project will be to offer advice on when and how public sector bodies should use some of the tools and services developed by GDS since the standard was first launched, such as the GOV.UK Pay and Notify services, and a number of centralised data sets.

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GDS has already held discussions about the standard’s overhaul both internally and with other Whitehall personnel. It is now looking to canvas opinion from frontline service delivery professionals across the wider public sector.

To which end it is inviting public sector workers to send in their feedback, or attend one of three workshops taking place next month, in London, Sheffield, and Newport.

Once the new standard is introduced, GDS will work to ensure that public bodies are able to meet its requirements.

“We’ll prioritise producing guidance and patterns to help service teams meet the new version of the standard,” GDS said. “And we’ll make sure guidance is structured so they support good decision-making by service teams at all levels of experience.”

For those entities with a large amount of outdated content, GDS may recommend an incremental implementation of the new standard’s requirements.

“For service teams dealing with significant legacy problems, it may not make sense to transform everything at once,” it said. “In some situations, an ‘archaeological’ approach might work better: uncovering and fixing the layers of complexity one at a time.”


Sam Trendall

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