GDS head: ‘Our top priority for 2024 is working with HMRC to migrate millions of Government Gateway users to One Login’

Tom Read discusses the digital unit’s global cooperation, its plans to use tech to tackle misinformation, and the age at which it is appropriate to watch a Bruce Willis classic

The yearly Permanent Secretaries Roundup published by PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World sees government’s senior leaders discuss the experiences of the past year – as well as shedding light on their plans for festive season.  Government Digital Service chief executive Tom Read (pictured above) looks ahead to a landmark 2024.

Tell us three words that sum up your 2023…
Ambitious future thinking.

…And why you chose those words
Alongside running our existing services and delivering our digital programmes, we have taken some time this year to start to fundamentally rethink how government services should work in the age of smartphone near-ubiquity, AI and changing societal expectations. To do this, we’ve been working closely and collaboratively with the larger central government departments, as well as the world-leading digital nations like Denmark, Estonia and Singapore. I have found this work exciting, ambitious and meaningful this year.

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024?  
Our single biggest priority for 2024 is partnering with HMRC to migrate the millions of Government Gateway users across to our new GOV.UK One Login platform, and then onboarding hundreds of other citizen-facing services from across government. Having a single username and password to access any government service, as well as a GOV.UK Account, is the key to unlocking our future digital services strategy.

Elsewhere, the GOV.UK team are exploring new routes to get trusted information to users, especially those users who don’t tend to read long-form text on websites. This approach, combining social media, generative AI and short-form video, will help us to build trust in democracy and tackle misinformation.

We are also working closely with the Central Digital and Data Office to ensure that the government services most commonly used by citizens are digital-by-default, mobile-first, and simple to use. One important step forward will be the public release of our GOV.UK Forms product, which will enable non-technical people right across the civil service to build simple digital services and publish them on the GOV.UK website.

On a more personal level, my priority for 2024 is to develop our vision for personalised, proactive government services accessed through a GOV.UK app. I want to make sure we’re using user research and data to design this vision, and to work in close partnership with the whole of government. Real change can’t be forced through from the centre; it needs to be co-designed and owned by all.

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’? 
I love everything about Christmas, and can’t think of a single thing that makes me say “bah, humbug”. The real treat for me will be spending lots of time with my kids, who are now both teenagers, watching classic Christmas movies. My 13-year-old thinks he’s old enough for Die Hard, but honestly the jury is out on that one.

All entries in Civil Service World’s 2023 Permanent Secretaries Roundup can be read here

PublicTechnology staff

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