https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2012/07/24/data-driven-delivery/

Data Driven Delivery

Every year, central and local government serve citizens and businesses through one and a half billion transactions.

For the first time, we’ve collected together a list of these transactional services provided by the government, to help departments and agencies systematically measure and improve their performance.

Richard Sargeant, Director of Performance and Delivery explains the opportunities in data driven delivery.

My name is Richard Sargeant and I joined GDS because I’ve long had a passion for making government work better. Outside Government I’ve worked at Google, and I’ve also been a trustee for an innovative young charity. I’ve seen what an enormous difference digital technology can make to service delivery and I want to see that revolution in the public sector too.

Tools to do the job

Today we’ve released a tool to explore over 1000 transactional services provided by central and local government, together with the number of those transactions successfully completed each year.

This is the first time we’ve brought this information together in one place. This means we can now see the sheer breadth of services the government provides.

Transactional services include pretty much every interaction you might have with the government, from booking driving tests and filing tax returns to setting up a company and applying for a fishing rod licence: everything which involves sharing information, requesting services, buying goods, asking for permission, or paying money.

Information is power

As well as bringing this information into the open, we see this release as an important step in helping the government more effectively measure the performance of public services, and also to prioritise and categorise those services. For example, it is interesting to note that of the 650 central government services, the top 10% of services account for 97% of the total volume of transactions. Or that over half of the services involve requesting permission to do something or providing information to the government.

The ultimate aim of all this, of course, is to identify opportunities to make more services digital by default. People are voting with their feet – making it clear that they want services to be digital. Government services should be no different. Putting services online, and doing it well, will waste less time, freeing people and businesses to do the important things. It will also stimulate a competitive digital environment, particularly for the thousands of SMEs who can provide world-leading digital services. And finally, it will save a very significant amount of money for taxpayers, and for users.

This is an early, ‘Alpha’ release: we’re still developing the data and its presentation so there are areas which are not yet complete. For example, machine readable CSV files are available, but there is currently no API. Similarly, in some places there will be gaps in the data, or errors that we’d like to correct in a future release. So please tell us what you think. Is it interesting? Is it useful? How could we make it a more valuable resource? The address for feedback is pdu-feedback@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk, or do leave a comment below.

GDS Performance Framework

Alongside the transactions data, we’ve released a beta version of the GDS Performance Framework to iterate the Alpha version we launched last month. Thanks to everyone who sent us feedback on the previous release.

Improvements in this version include:

  • more examples and case studies
  • extended further reading list
  • a worked example based on experiences developing GOV.UK

As ever, we’re interested in your thoughts either via email or through the comments box below.

Key links:

Transactional services explorer
GDS Performance Framework (Beta)

11 comments

  1. Ingrid Morris

    Hello Richard,

    Good to see what has happened with data we submitted. We are patching your categories across to our local reports so that we are consistent. At some point it might be helpful to have access to the whole data set across departments. It might have some potential, over time, to better spot areas in common across departments.

    Currently we are not reporting ‘checking data held’. We have wrestled on whether this is a transaction or not. In the strictest sense it is not. An analogy might be logging into a bank account to check the balance but nothing further. We do a whole heap of these(eg check my MOT status, my vehicle details, bulk test history reports) – I would anticipate this to keep increasing as we promote and develop the digital certificate as the key source. Any views on where to place?

    Cheers

    Ingrid

    Reply
    • rcsargeant

      Ingrid, many thanks for your help in compiling the data. Absolutely agree about making more data accessible – we’ll be expanding this set in the coming months. You’re right that the checking services are a little different from some of the other transactions, but we think they are a useful service to capture. About 10% of the services we’ve listed have been categorised as an information request, and checking services would likely fall into this category.

      Reply
  2. Alan Rider

    Well done on pulling this list together. It gives a good idea of the size of the prize, though it will need intelligent use in practice as volumes aren’t everything and don’t always give a good indicator of potential savings from opening digital channels as these may not come until other channels close, which may have to be over time. Some transactions have to be done in whole or in part face to face too of course. Others seem to go down to a level of detail we probably don’t need (individual application forms etc), But then it is an Alpha.

    Interested to see the categories used too. These feel to have been applied somewhat arbitrarily in places. Are they the right set of generic headings too? Are these categories created by GDS or do they have some sort of common ownership across Departments?

    All questions for the beta!

    Reply
    • Clifford Sheppard

      Thanks for your feedback, Alan.

      You’re right – high volumes grab the attention, but we can’t look at those numbers in isolation. If our goal is to improve services and save money, then we need more information – on costs, for example. We also need to consider the needs of users, and the context in which each service operates. But this alpha release does help us to see where we can make the biggest impact, and it gets others thinking about their own services and how they can use performance data.

      We left it up to departments to choose the level of detail they provided and, yes, this is probably too high in some cases. Where it’s sensible, we’ll group together related services in future releases.

      The categories we used worked well when we applied them to a relatively small set of services. As the list of services grew, our initial definitions were stretched too far and it became clear that more work is needed on this. We would welcome views on how to improve on our first go.

      Reply
      • Alan Rider

        Thanks Cliff
        Probably best to continue the debate off line to avoid boring everyone, but this feels like a short workshop in GDS with a few experts from different departments/agencies would work for developing the Alpha to the next stage.

        Reply
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  8. Mike

    Pity there’s some data missing – are you hoping to including all the transactional data from HM Treasury and its bodies (DMO, NS&I)?

    Reply

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