Digital by design – users, users, users are the top three priorities

Previous blog postings on the ‘Government Reimagined – The Evidence’ panel session at Civil Service Live last week have focused on examples of transformation in local authorities and a government agency. In this post, we shall share some of the observations from the ‘agent of change’ in government for digital-by-default services – the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Mark O’Neill, Head of Innovation and Delivery, at GDS put the focus on starting with user needs for simpler, clearer and faster online public services. Simply digitally-enabling current business processes is not the answer as the examples from the other panellists Geoff Connell from the London Borough of Newham and Ed Schofield from the Rural Payments Agency exemplify.

GDS is currently working on ‘digital-by-default’ projects for 25 public services across 14 government agencies and 8 ministerial departments. This included projects with both the RPA and London boroughs where GDS expertise is fully embedded with the customer to ensure the online service does fully reflect user needs.

One of Mark’s insights relates to the most recent public service to be digitally-enabled by GDS – Lasting Power of Attorney. Feedback on the ‘alpha’ version of the service indicated that, for such an important decision affecting the welfare of individual citizens, it was perhaps too simple online. The ‘beta’ version applied some ‘digital speed bumps’ to the process to encourage careful consideration at each step in the process rather than simply ‘click to the next step’.

Overall, the excellent contributions from our panellists to the Microsoft-hosted panel at Civil Service Live on ‘Government Reimagined – The Evidence’ demonstrated that the pace of transformation is speeding up rapidly.  We can all expect many more public services to be fully transactional online in the coming twelve months using innovative technology that will help to drive down costs and drive up citizen satisfaction with their ability to transact with public sector organisations more effectively online.

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