The Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude today launched the Civil Service Reform Plan and we were glad to welcome him and Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, to GDS this morning in advance of the announcement. You can see them chatting to GDS staff Alice Newton and Jordan Hatch in the video below.
I am very heartened to see that Digital by Default is a core theme running through the Civil Service Reform plan with the explicit acceptance by the Minister that “central government wherever possible must become a digital organisation. These days the best service organisations deliver online everything that can be delivered online. This cuts their costs dramatically and allows access to information and services at times and in ways convenient to the users rather than the providers”.
The need to improve digital skills in government is referenced several times throughout the document and we in GDS have been tasked with making things better across government. The plan sets out the commitment that we will publish an interim Cross Government Digital Strategy in Autumn 2012 setting out how we will support the transformation of digital services. The complete Government Digital Strategy will be published in December.
It’s encouraging to see the plan build on initiatives like our recently published Social Media Guidance for Civil Servants when exploring the concept of open policy making. It calls for civil servants to use “web-based tools, platforms and new media to widen access to policy debates to individuals and organisations not normally involved”. It also highlights that current models used to develop policy need updating to reflect the new tools and techniques now available. “The traditional tools of legislation, funding and regulation need to be used more sparingly, and new tools such as behavioral insight, transparency, and digital engagement should be considered more readily”. These are all approaches that we in GDS have adopted in our work in developing the single domain GOV.UK and other projects in partnership with departments and agencies across Government.
So it's a good day for digital in government and I look forward to taking part in the debates that will follow. The Minister and Sir Bob Kerslake will be back in GDS this Thursday 21 June from 4.00 to 5.00, to take part in a Facebook discussion so Civil Servants can give feedback directly on the plan. You can take part on the Civil Service Facebook page and you can ask Sir Bob Kerslake questions directly on Twitter by tweeting him (@sirbobkerslake) using the hashtag #asksirbob
You can read the plan on the Civil Service site.