Can Government deliver the gds?

Presidential Election -USA 2012

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That’s the Governments Digital Strategy which will be implemented by the Government Digital Service (GDS). They are part of the Cabinet Office and Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office) introduced the strategy today (scroll down to watch his commendably concise video).

No doubt many of the media headlines will link to the “By going digital by default, the government could save between £1.7 and £1.8 billion each year.”

What we note and, by and large agree with are comments such as:

  • “Make the applications absolutely compelling
  • … fit for the 21st Century – agile, flexible and digital by default
  • ….. services that are so straightforward and convenient
  • ….opportunity to save people time
  • ….use incentives to encourage digital adoption”.

Our highlighting.

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The last point is interesting, the document employs a – use the internet use our service argument. We’ve combined a couple of their graphics to show that from their survey 82% use the internet but only 46% have used a Government transaction service.

Elsewhere today in  The 2012 Nielsen Global Survey of Digital’s Influence on Grocery Shopping it was found that  74% of UK consumers used the internet for grocery shopping. Our point is that consumers need a reason to use a service AND be attracted to it. “Digital by default” needs a positive element to maximise its uptake.

“There are 7 departments which between them handle the majority of central government transactions. These are:

  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Home Office”

We have used several of these Departments/Agencies both as a consumer and a business.

On balance we would say much room for improvement particularly on their Gateway system which we find cumbersome in the extreme.

In our view at present there is little to attract you (either as a consumer or a business) although we do recall a sponsored prize at the DVLA a couple of years ago and eg on VAT remittances there was/is an extra 7 day period to submit payments when these are made electronically.

As with the weekly (or whatever) grocery shop all the services needs to be both innovative and continually “sold” similiar to Tesco’s efforts which we comment on from time to time.

So we think some positively is needed to counteract the negative “default”. Why not “delightfully Digital”!

  1. The Digital Strategy  (pdf version) is supported by
  2. The Digital Efficiency Report  (pdf version) which gives additional information about the potential financial savings and the
  3. Digital Landscape Research  (pdf version) which gives background information on the use of digital services in the UK

Here’s Francis Maude’s introductory video

We do have an illogical hatred of initials, in particular for Government departments and have pointed out before to the Government Digital Service that there is another GDS lurking elsewhere which might cause some unhelpful confusion as it is the Government Decontamination Service  which is part of “fera” (the Food and Environmental Research Agency) which comes under the auspices of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or as they like to call it the dreaded defra! hmmmmmmmmmmm


We hear that there’s a little election taking place over on the other side of the pond & may return with our very own one page (A4) election guide later in the day!

Presidential Election -USA 2012

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