'GDS needs departmental buy-in - but for some its name is still mud', says techUK public services head
Departments urged to reverse habit of working in silos and embrace pan-government tech strategy for the good of citizens
"There is a strong rationale for what GDS is doing, but they need buy-in," according to techUK's Owen Spottiswoode
The public services leader of techUK has said that, to make its vision a reality, the Government Digital Service needs more support from the rest of Whitehall. But “there are some central government departments for whom the GDS name is still mud”, he added.
Owen Spottiswoode, head of programme for public services at the industry body, told PublicTechnology that the complexion and focus of GDS and the wider central government technology strategy have changed a great deal over the years.
“It is horses for courses,” Spottiswoode said. “In the Mike Bracken and Francis Maude era, there was a disruptor attitude. The public sector needed to be shaken up, and I think that was a good call at that point in time.”
- ‘We proved ourselves to the Treasury’ – one-on-one with former GDS big gun Poss Apostolou
- GDS tells public sector to 'be bold and unpublish' unnecessary web pages
- TechUK calls for detail on Digital Strategy and boost for data-handling capacity ahead of Budget
He added: “Now, GDS is coming up against other [departments]. It requires buy-in from the people it is working with and it struggles to get that sometimes. I get the impression that Kevin [Cunnington] has been brought in to be a bit more conciliatory, and a bit less of a disruptor – which is sensible.”
Such propitiation may be necessary, Spottiswoode said, as GDS still faces resistance from departments that have long been used to operating autonomously and in effective isolation.
“Government has been set up to be siloed and, when someone comes in and tells a department what to do, [they do not like it],” he said. “There are some central government departments for whom the GDS name is still mud."
Spottiswoode added: “But the point of GDS is a sound one. Citizens do not think ‘this is an HMRC service, or a BEIS service’ – they just want a joined-up, seamless experience. So, there is a strong rationale for what GDS is doing – but they need buy in.”
Look out in the coming days for a full write-up of the techUK’s public sector chief’s discussion with PublicTechnology.
Dominic Cummings’ ambitions realised as prime minister’s office seeks to recruit crack squad of data scientists for No. 10 skunkworks
Cabinet Office minister said that, despite the controversy that often surrounds the PM’s top adviser, ‘people are interested in Dominic and his ideas’
The results of techUK’s annual GovTech SME Survey suggest the Digital Marketplace has made a positive impact on access to the public sector tech market but, according to Henry Rex, there are...
Minister discusses need for new training campus and greater use of data in evaluation of projects
Locked down and forced to close clinics, the hospital trust enabled 2,000 employees to work from home and maintain continuity of services within 48 hours
University of Cambridge chose Citrix Workspace to deliver an efficient, sustainable desktop, and gained work-from-home continuity when Covid-19 struck
Stephen Twynam of Citrix argues that by adjusting Bring Your Own Device to Use Your Own Device, the sentiment shifts and the negative connotations of BYOD are alleviated
In our final series Citrix on Sustainability, watch as Northern Europe Area Vice President Michelle Senecal de Fonseca joins Fred Dahlman, Associate Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the...