Scottish Government needs better digital leadership says auditor

Written by PublicTechnology staff on 21 June 2019 in News
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Government lacks complete picture of work and spending across Scotland’s public sector

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The Scottish Government needs more effective strategic leadership in digital government, both in tracking progress and helping organisations collaborate, Audit Scotland has said.

In its report Enabling digital government, the spending watchdog said the Scottish Government does know what has been achieved across the nation’s public sector, including successes and gaps in progress. It also lacks knowledge of how much money is being spent on digital work, and what will be needed to deliver the ambitions outlined in its digital strategy of 2017.

This lack of oversight causes particular problems given the lack of specialist staff and the prioritisation of resources this requires, although the Scottish Government has developed training and new career paths.

The report said that more than 200 public sector bodies in Scotland are developing digital services, but a planned catalogue of central government services, systems and licences has taken too long to develop. It added that online identity and payments are an obvious area for collaboration, and praised the way the Digital Identity Scotland programme has been set up for its open approach.


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The report made a number of recommendations. To help deliver its digital strategy, the Scottish Government should facilitate a more collaborative approach between public-sector organisations, build more flexibility into digital recruitment and procurement and map out all significant digital programmes across Scotland’s public sector.

To provide better support central government digital programmes, it should publicise the support service provided by its digital directorate, ensure its new integrated assurance team has enough people and skills and focus on developing commercial, programme and project management skills.

“The Scottish Government is in a unique position to show digital leadership by bringing people together and sharing lessons learned across Scotland's public sector,” said Caroline Gardner, the Auditor General for Scotland.

“Governments across the world are facing the same challenge, and bringing about collaboration will not be easy. But Scotland's relatively small size presents a clear opportunity for the government to move from an operational role to one of strategic leadership and reap all the benefits that shift could bring to citizens and the wider economy.”

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