This is the first delivery product from the Government Digital Service (GDS) using Skunkworks techniques to provide an agile delivery and SME engagement capability for the public sector: e-petitions is a product of that approach in practice:
It was developed using agile techniques which allowed us to complete the project within 8 weeks - including procurement, assembly of the team, development, hosting provisioning and deployment - ensuring we met all the standards and practices we needed and wanted to along the way.
It was developed by a number of SMEs, mostly new to central government and the public sector, who were procured through a flexible, rapid procurement framework.
It's built on open source software and according to open standards.
It's reusable and will be made available to anyone in the public sector (once we're happy it's a stable code base).
It's hosted in a secure environment ensuring the personal data we do need to collect remains personal.
So this is an example of us living our own philosophy.
We've had challenges along the way in terms of rapidly assembling the team, working with evolving requirements and assembling the appropriate secure hosted environment, but the agility of the approach has meant we were able to embrace such challenges and deliver.
We've also had some help along the way from some 'critical friends', whose input has been greatly appreciated and forms a great model for us engaging more widely with those who often do know a bit more than we do about certain aspects!
This is the first of what I hope will be many successful, fast and low cost solutions which the Government Digital Service will be delivering, sometimes through internal resources but more usually through SMEs and the wider community.
We welcome feedback on the new site and if you have any questions about the GDS, our service or our approach to development then please get in touch.