IfG levels harsh critique at GDS strategy

Think tank proposes raft of new things a Whitehall Head of Function for Digital, Data and Technology should be doing – including coming up with a better rollout plan for GOV.UK Verify than is currently on offer

Posted 30 August 2018 by

In key areas of government digital transformation like creating a secure Digital Identity for those using public services, progress has been too slow, the Institute for Government believes – and that should be a priority for any Head of Function for Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) in the centre.

In what won’t be interpreted as anything but a tough critique of the Government Digital Service’s handling of that Digital Identity, GOV.UK Verify, the think tank is basically saying enough is enough and change needs to come.

What that change needs to look like: clarifying the boundary between what GDS does and other parts of government, like DCMS and HMRC, around data and Verify, pushing harder for standards and a return to greater openness – citing the drop-off in blogging on GDS sites a a key example.

To do so, the job description of the Head of Whitehall’s DDaT function needs to massively change – centred on making the strategic case for cross-government services and pushing harder on getting standards agreed and adopted across Departments.

The ideas come in a paper published last week on the theme of ‘Professionalising Whitehall’, which also recommends the head of function should focus on spreading standards across government and the public sector, work more openly, including by publishing an implementation plan providing targets for digital transformation and become a member of the Civil Service Board.

“Clarifying and improving the effectiveness of the role of head of function for DDaT will make it more likely that the Government achieves its priorities in these areas,” the report states.