We run through the biggest stories from July to December
2The first half of 2017 brought a snap general election and a global cyberattack that threatened to cripple the NHS.
And the second half of the year was hardly less eventful, as this, the second part of our annual round-up reveals.
The second half of the year began with a digital-focused rebrand in Whitehall, as DCMS became the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Early July also brought news that, in its work with Google DeepMind, the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust had breached the data-protection act.
The publication of two major reports brought mixed news for public sector digital transformation advocates: the Infrastructure and Projects Authority revealed that just one in four major government IT projects are on course for success; while an NHS Digital report revealed that the organisation’s progress is being stymied by ageing technology and culture clashes.
These were the month’s five most read stories on PublicTechnology:
- 1) GOV.UK Verify to be extended to cover other countries next year
- 2) Could the UK become the Silicon Valley of government technology?
- 3) No going back on shift away from big IT vendors, says former No. 10 policy guru
- 4) Crown Prosecution Service’s digital transformation chief on his ‘user-centric’ mission
- 5) Robotics revolution: why chatbots and AI could shake up local government
In August the impact of the increasingly imminent GDPR legislation became ever-more apparent, as the DCMS published a statement of intent for the Data Protection Bill – UK legislation that will effectively adopt all the measures of GDPR, plus some additional regulations to boot. Among the biggest of the new responsibilities facing public-sector organisations is the requirement to appoint a data-protection officer.
GOV.UK’s Notify messaging platform began to roll out across local government in August, while the Scottish Government found itself facing a “brute-force cyberattack”. Also in August, Camden councillor Theo Blackwell became London’s first-ever chief digital officer.
These were the articles that attracted the most clicks during the month:
- 1) Analysis: HMRC tops central government digital league table
- 2) HMRC seeks five senior managers to spearhead major digital rollout
- 3) DVLA chief Oliver Morley on the agency’s vision for a digital future
- 4) DWP’s Kit Collingwood-Richardson on One Team Government and bridging Whitehall’s digital divide
- 5) Cabinet Office launches £4m project to drive use of software robots across civil service
Some blue material left a local authority red-faced this month, as Telford & Wrekin Council investigated how it came to be that a local public information sign displayed, shall we say, adult content.
The government flagged up Leeds’ status as “England’s major digital city”, as NHS Digital and HMRC announced plans to house a cumulative total of 6,000 workers there.
Elsewhere health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that an NHS app would, by the end of next year, allow everyone in England to view their medical records and book GP appointments, while parliament’s Science and Technology Committee faced a backlash after the first eight appointments it made were all men.
But these were the hottest stories of the month:
- 1) Digital chief lifts lid on how HMRC pulled off the biggest tax change in 70 years without anyone noticing
- 2) Home Office picks supplier for £2m Border Force app
- 3) HMRC, Home Office, and DWP to share data in ‘fully digital’ post-Brexit immigration system
- 4) The only way is digital – Essex County Council to set up mini-GDS
- 5) How Birmingham City Council ditched ‘vanity projects’ and transformed its white-elephant website
Early in October home secretary Amber Rudd caused controversy – and did little to endear herself to the tech community – when she proclaimed that “I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping criminals”.
The National Cyber Security Centre marked its 12 months in existence by publishing a report that revealed that, during the year, the UK had been hit by upwards of 30 cyberattacks that required a cross-government response.
The NHS launched a bid to find suppliers to help with the £45m rollout of online GP consultations, while the DWP made the headlines twice: first, with the decision to scrap call charges for the Universal Credit hotline; and second, with the news that government’s pensions dashboard project would go ahead, with DWP helming the scheme.
- 1) How The National Archives is digitising 1,000 years of history
- 2) HMRC chief defends tax agency’s data storage deal with Amazon Web Services
- 3) Interview: DWP’s Mayank Prakash on AI, DevOps, and working with GDS
- 4) ‘Officers can spend thousands more hours out in the community’ – inside Manchester police’s mobile revolution
- 5) Analysis: What do the government’s biggest digital services cost taxpayers?
Early in this month UK digital minister Matt Hancock reiterated his commitment to delivering a “full-fibre future” for the country’s broadband. Meanwhile two local authorities, Worcester and Bexley, issued tenders seeking commercial suppliers to install free public WiFi – at their own expense.
Prime minister Theresa May unveiled a clutch of ideas designed to boost the technology sector in the UK, including an extra 1,000 visas, and a £20m fund for investing in govtech.HMRC’s fight to deliver a customs system fit for post-Brexit Britain was given a boost when the department’s chief executive Jon Thompson pledged that the project would be delivered “whether we get the funding or not”.
These were the articles that got the most views during the month:
- 1) Public sector given March 2019 deadline to ditch .gsi domains and move to public cloud
- 2) NHS’s £500m HSCN deal goes live with nine suppliers
- 3) Public sector ‘cannot rely on consent as a legal basis’ for GDPR compliance, warns ICO
- 4) Consistency, transparency, and an end to gerrymandering – what government IT suppliers want
- 5) Which UK councils are leading the ‘urbantech’ revolution?
The final month of the year began with news that the in-development Crown Marketplace will, ultimately, supersede the Digital Marketplace, according to the technology chief of Crown Commercial Service.
In policy news, meanwhile, the government put forward a number of proposed changes to the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’, and opened the proposals up for public consultation.
On the other side of the house Labour’s shadow digital minister Liam Byrne launched a project to crowdsource the party’s digital policy, and suggested that Labour policymakers will also revisit the issue of online voting at some point next year.
These were the five articles that most piqued our readers’ curiosity:
- 1) Who are central government’s highest-earning technology professionals?
- 2) The ten key questions – and nine answers – facing the public sector on GDPR
- 3) Take this tablet – GPs to offer apps on prescription
- 4) ‘This does not feel like a good thing’ – G-Cloud suppliers see opportunity and alarm in framework’s extension
- 5) No longer a ‘framework factory’ – inside CCS tech chief’s plans to progress the procurement paradigm
Part one of our 2017 recap can be read here.