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This week at GDS

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Two big releases this week, with the new additions to Inside Government and the release of the Content Explorer, and we've visited DFID and the Student Loans Company up in Scotland.

What have we been up to at GDS this week?

This week, we mark the one-year anniversary of Inside Government. I know of no better way to mark it than the migration of no less than three parts of the government estate into the service. The first was the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; DCMS. Also, we mapped over HMRC; a lot of content and services from the tax side of the government – and not least the office of the General Advocate for Scotland.

That’s where you’ve been this week...

It is. We spent Monday and Tuesday up in Glasgow. We went to the Student Loans Company. We’ve been working with them for quite a while; since November 2011. Gordon Simpson, who’s really led the transformation of that business; it’s great to see what he’s done by getting a team of people there who are long-established Student Loans Company people. Also some SMEs; got SOPA in there and a few others, and we’re really taking a new approach to creating digital service for the Student Loans Company. There’s a lot of work to do yet, but early signs are that user satisfaction rates are improving rapidly, and it’s great to see the team there. We’ve got Tom Meade, Lindsay and Martin, and Rhona Cameron, who helped build that team out there, working with Trish Quinn.

Second up on Monday, we had a chance to go down to East Kilbride, just south of Glasgow, and see the team from DFID; the Department for International Development. I’m a long-standing admirer of what Charles and John and the team up there have been doing, not least with the aid platform. You can see the way that they’re really opening up the data economy for international development; a terrific achievement. It’s also great to see what they’re doing with Agile in that building. So they’ve got companies like Emergen helping them, but they’ve got a whole bunch of people working in a very different way from how they used to; they have Rapid Sprint, they iterate really quickly, and they’re really driving development of data services. I think they’re the model for many government departments. It’s great to see them, and I think we can help them more. It’s a great place to work, and we’re going to try and help get more people with digital skills up there in the near future.

What’s coming next week?

Next week, two major events. Early in the week, parliamentary accounts committee; hugely important in government, chaired by Margaret Hodge, and we’re talking about the nexus between IT services and IT procurement. It’s a huge opportunity to start that conversation to how we reform both those areas.

End of the week, much more upbeat I hope, I’m speaking at the London Business School tech media summit, and one of our digital advisors, Tim Brooks, has really opened the door there; we’re going to try and get some of those MBA students and graduates to help us on our journey.

Has anything caught your eye outside GDS this week?

From a long way away, from South Africa, we saw Ben Terrett, our design lead here, and he was trending on Twitter in South Africa because he was speaking at the Indaba conference. He’s been talking about Gov UK and GDS, and that’s really lit up the design world. So it’s great to hear the echo chamber play that back from a long way away.

Much, much closer to home, just down the road here, we have some news from Soho. We now have Baroness Martha Lane Fox of Soho, and I’m delighted for Martha. She works incredibly hard; she’ll make a fantastic cross-bench peer when she enters the Lords, and personally I’m just delighted that she’s our backer, and that she gets the long-awaited praise that she deserves. Because she’s been an endless pioneer for all things digital in this country.

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