In November of last year, the UK Government released their Digital Government Strategy. As a lot of attention here in the states has been placed on the federal Digital Government Strategy I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the UK’s version, and find any lessons learned we could apply here in the states.
Like in the US, the UK’s digital government strategy was developed out of the need to accommodate a society increasingly dependent on technology. As technology continues to permeate deeper into our lives, we turn to the web to request services, pay bills, and interact with our government. This trend has led to many agencies developing new web strategies and allow citizens to perform more transactions through self-service platforms.
The UK strategy lays out 14 goals and milestones to improve technology in government. The website states, “The strategy contains 14 actions which we have tried to ensure are meaningful and measurable. We recognize that departments are often more different than they are alike, so their departmental digital strategies – due for publication in December – will set out how they will each deliver the actions in light of their own users and services.”
I really enjoyed the quote, and the leadership philosophy the UK has embraced. Similar to the US, the quote is the indication that UK leaders understand that part of leadership is setting the vision, articulating the goals and providing a road map, but letting the agency leads drive the car to the final destination.
The UK’s 14 goals can be found below, followed by some parallels I saw to the US strategy. Overall, both the US and UK are taking the right approach to improving technology in government, and fully leveraging emerging tools to transform and redefine the customer experience for citizens. Here’s the UK version:
- Ensure there is an active digital leader on departmental and transactional agency boards
- Empower skilled and experienced Service Managers to direct the redesign and operation of services
- Ensure that appropriate digital capability exists in-house across departments
- Support improved digital capability across departments
- Redesign services with over 100,000 transactions each year
- Ensure all new or redesigned transactional services meet the digital by default service standard from April 2014
- Move the publishing activities of central government departments onto GOV.UK by March 2013, with agency and arm’s length bodies’ to follow by March 2014
- Raise awareness of digital services so that more people know about, and use, them
- Take a cross-government approach to assisted digital, and help people who have rarely or never been online to access and use services
- Offer leaner and more lightweight tendering processes
- Lead in the definition and delivery of a suite of common technology platforms to underpin the new services
- Remove legislative barriers which unnecessarily prevent the development of straightforward and convenient digital services
- Define and supply consistent management information for transactional services
- Use digital tools and techniques to engage with and consult the public
The 14 goals are interesting to explore. What was clear about the UK Digital Strategy is that like the US, the strategy clearly articulates a shared vision of how government should operate and run. Also, like the US strategy, it places a large burden of implementation and meeting objectives in the hands of agency leaders. The final comment in my brief overview is that the UK strategy clearly establishes metrics, standards, and goals for agencies to strive for collectively, and individually.
This discussion will continue in a future GovLoop report. At GovLoop we are currently working on a new research report, exploring how agencies are implementing aspects of a digital government strategy, and how emerging technology trends are impact government at the state and local level. We also are going to compare the UK and the US digital strategy plans, with that; here is your chance to take part in the report. We’ll be releasing a survey soon, but feel free to leave a comment sharing your success with digital government. To get the conversation started, I’ve listed ten parallels between the US and UK Digital Government Strategy, and would love to hear some of your ideas.
- Lead from the top, empower the agency leaders
- Set realistic expectations for agencies
- Give people the tools and resources they need to excel
- Accept trends happening in society, place trends into proper context to maximize benefits for government
- Expectations are higher now for government, and less room for error – use this to motivate and serve as a catalyst for change in government
- Set clear, measurable goals for agencies
- Importance of defining and engaging stakeholders (internal/external customers, citizens)
- Move to self-service for cost savings, efficiency
- Make technology and innovation part of an agency’s ethos
- Provide a clear vision to re-imagine and modernize government services
I’d love to hear any parallels you’ve identified, and thoughts on my 10 listed above. If you’re interested in learning more about our report, please feel free to send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.