UK unveils digital and data strategy to improve its online services

The new 21-point plan promises to transform government digital services and streamline online processes, saving over £1 billion in the next three years

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The UK government has launched a new digital and data strategy, outlining plans to transform government digital services, upskill civil servants and streamline online processes by 2025.

The 21-point roadmap, titled 'Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data', is being overseen by the Central Digital and Data Office, a department that leads the digital, data and technology function of government.

The strategy's main pledge is that by 2025, at least 50 of the most used government services will be upgraded to ensure they are efficient, easy to use and accessible on mobile devices.

One Login, a single account for citizens to prove their identity and access services that the UK government has long been trying to make happen, is also central to this new strategy. According to the strategy paper, all government departments will need to confirm an adoption strategy and roadmap for One Login for Government by April 2023 and begin onboarding by 2025.

The government claims it will save over £1 billion by 2025 due to the streamlining of processes and elimination of paper-based services.

In comments published alongside the strategy, Paul Willmott, executive chair of the  Central Digital and Data Office, said the roadmap is an ambitious statement of intent that represents a new era of collaboration on digital transformation and marks a step-change in the digital and data agenda.

"Written collaboratively, it sets out a collective vision under-pinned by real, tangible commitments and actions, to be delivered by all government departments," Willmott said.

How the UK's digital strategy will play out

The strategy states that this roadmap is 'designed to be different', due to the creation of the Central Digital and Data Office and the collaboration between Permanent Secretary leadership.

Furthermore, in order to 'reach [its] vision for 2025', the government has divided the 21 points that make up the overarching strategy into six cross-government missions:

  • Mission One - Transformed public services that achieve the right outcomes
  • Mission Two - One Login for government
  • Mission Three - Better data to power decision making
  • Mission Four - Secure, efficient and sustainable technology
  • Mission Five - Digital skills at scale
  • Mission Six - A system that unlocks digital transformation

Each mission is led by a permanent secretary-level sponsor and will be governed by a dedicated steering committee of government tech leaders that includes CDIOs, CTOs and CDOs. A 'forum of permanent secretaries' that make up a newly formed Digital and Data Board will oversee the delivery of the plan and review its progress every six months.

Digital transformation within government has long been promised by the Conservative Party since it was elected in 2010. As a result, some of the pledges outlined by this new strategy are likely to sound somewhat familiar.

The strategy notes that in a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) last year, previous attempts at digital transformation in government have had mixed success. The NAO blamed a lack of strong leadership and weak understanding of digital change management among senior decision-makers, for a 'consistent pattern of underperformance' among UK government digital transformation projects.

In his written comments, Willmott acknowledges these issues, stating: "The barriers that the government faces in achieving digital transformation are significant, however the opportunity it presents is immense, and will ensure UK society reaps the benefits for decades to come."

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