The Government Digital Strategy says that all new or redesigned digital services will meet the Digital by Default Service Standard from April 2014. Before then, GDS is using the standard to support the Cabinet Office spending controls, to deepen knowledge of the standard across government, and to identify areas where we can support departments in building their digital capability.
We've now started to carry out assessments against the standard. I want to explain how and why we’re doing these, and how you can request an assessment for your service.
The 26 articles of the Digital by Default Service Standard were published alongside the Government Service Design Manual a few weeks ago. Formal assessments of new and redesigned services against the standard will begin from April 2014, however, it's important we start using the standard as early as possible. Partly because it gives the teams building services time to get up to speed with the requirements, and also because it will give us feedback that we can use to fine-tune the standard over the course of the year, and improve the guidance we offer through the manual.
We expect that most services assessed during the course of this year won't meet all 26 criteria - at least initially. This is not surprising; the standard is part of a new approach that's deliberately intended as a 'stretch' to improve the quality of government's digital services.
We’ve already conducted assessments on 13 different services across 7 departments. The assessments take a couple of hours at most, and are led by an experienced product manager, with support from a technical and an analytics specialist.
It's been a really helpful process for us in helping improving services we’ve built, and providing more structured feedback to service development teams across government. It's also helped to clarify any systemic blockers that departments face in meeting the standard, for example, using agile processes, publishing their code, or conducting early stage user testing.
We’ve been really impressed by the fantastic work going on across government, and we hope that the process has been as helpful for the teams in the departments and agencies as it has been for us. I’ll be asking some of those who have been assessed to write about their own experience of the assessment in the coming weeks.
GDS will conduct assessments when a new service applies for GOV.UK domain, or for spending approval for further development, or when a new service applies to launch a beta on GOV.UK. GDS will not conduct assessments on existing services on GOV.UK, or on non-public facing services. Service managers can request an assessment at any time and ideally, an assessment will take place relatively early in the design and build process to raise any issues before they develop.
To request an assessment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief summary of the service, and the team will be in touch.