What’s holding back the digital transformation of our public services
Public Sector The smart use of technology has changed all our lives. However, it has yet to achieve its transformative potential in the delivery of public services.
Given the fiscal pressures on central and local government to deliver better for less, technology can transform public services to meet the needs of our changing population and deliver huge efficiencies.
There is no doubt that in the last five years, huge progress has been made and in particular the Government Digital Service should be commended for driving much of that change. However, there is still some way to go to deliver the wholesale end to end transformation that is required. This means cost effective digital, online, mobile, social, self-serviced, secure, and above all easy-to-use services.
The good news is civil service is open to more engagement and innovation - we recently conducted a survey of almost 1,000 Civil Servants, which showed that over three quarters view IT as a necessity, and 22% see it as an enabler. They’re also demanding more engagement with industry – whilst 80% agreed on the need for contact with industry pre, during and post procurement, only 18% believe there is sufficient pre-procurement engagement.
As an industry we need to step up and support the Government and departments to achieve the scale of changes needed. Our Three Point Plan sets out the framework to enable more effective collaboration between Government and industry through early engagement with the whole of the tech industry, better information and more innovation.
The Conservatives’ victory in the general election has been widely welcomed as offering consistency in approach to public services. It was very encouraging to see the party’s Manifesto commitment to “put more of the essential services you use online, to make them more convenient” and “make government more efficient”.
To deliver on these goals, it’s vital that government has sufficient skills and capabilities to deliver substantial change. Worryingly, our survey showed that only 20% agree their department has the skills and capabilities to manage suppliers and 71% of Civil Servants in key roles see internal culture as one of the biggest barriers. Similarly, 33% of Civil Servants are unsure if their departments want to procure more services from SMEs, despite the Government’s commitment to raise SMEs' share of central government procurement to one-third.
Big changes need to be made, and Minister Hancock has already demonstrated a commitment to digital. We look forward to working with him and the Government Digital Service to build on the successes of the last five years to help develop a civil service that is more open, innovative and collaborative.