Ed Vaizey MP at Digital Leaders 2017: His thoughts on Digital Government

A continuing lack of co-ordination of government, has led to three separate digital strategies: The Department for Culture Media & Sport, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the Government Digital Service. The key elements in bringing these together from the perspective of the former ‘Digital Minister’ are:

Infrastructure

Planning on the ground, often at the behest of local councils, has a big impact on the speed at which new digital infrastructure can be implemented. Seeking permission to dig up roads, implementing new types of exchanges and getting to the final consumers, can all significantly hold up the roll out of capabilities such as 5G.

Pick winners

Government links with businesses and universities can help to support the most innovative and successful technologies that will drive change in the future. Sometimes a controversial strategy as it amounts to investing in small companies to be successful, the pay offs for all involved make it worthwhile according to Ed.

Invest in skills

Coding may have been introduced into the national curriculum, but more needs to be done to keep up to speed with the skills needed across the whole industry spectrum. It is also the responsibility of employers to help keep their teams’ skills up to speed given the rapid change of what’s needed to be successful in the workplace today.

Do less with more

Thanks to the Government Digital Services, everything from passport applications to permits to be buried at sea can now be done online, saving over £4 billion in administration fees. By focussing on user needs rather than government structures and ways of working, huge progress has been made that allows the Government to be a modern provider of services to its citizens.

“This isn’t about putting stuff online”

Putting digital at the heart of what you do, can transform your organisation and how you work. The number of government digital strategies illustrates how silo-ed the different departments are. By attempting to merge these into a single coherent service, digital is beginning to transform how whole branches of government work together and co-ordinate their efforts.