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This week at GDS

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Mike Bracken discusses the launch of the digital services framework, digital capability as part of the Civil Service Reform One Year On report and the SPRINT Alpha event next week. David Rennie from the ID Assurance team visited the Cloud Identity Summit in California, Vernon Everitt and Phil Young from Transport for London came to GDS to discuss open data and John Oates joined the Content Design team.

(Full transcript below)

Giles: Hello Mike.

Mike: Hello Giles.

Giles: What’s been going on this week?

Mike: Two big things this week. One of our biggest reforms to date started this week, with the launch of the Digital Services Framework. It’s a new framework to allow us to commission and procure services from all suppliers, but crucially around agile services, bespoke, timed materials and specialist skills; stuff that has always restricted government from being able to do stuff quickly. So far we’ve had great interest; over 180 expressions of interest in the first four or five working days. It goes on till August; all the details are on our blog.

But when that’s complete, as well as a G-Cloud for commodity services, we’re going to have a new framework to allow us to buy bespoke and timed material services around digital content, digital technology and so on and so forth. So it’s a real big win for us, and it’s one of those structural changes that have really bedevilled government for the last, what, 15 years, I would say.

Giles: And the second thing?

Mike: It’s one year on from civil service reform, and we’ve come out of it quite well. The digital changes that we have delivered or are on track to deliver have been recognised as changing the civil service. That’s good. There’s a lot of conversation at the moment around our work on recruitment, and bringing new skills and capability into the civil service. You can find out more of that next Tuesday the 16th at 1.30, when Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service will be hosting an online conversation; the hashtag is #asksirbob.

Giles: What’s going to happen next week?

Mike: Internally there’s a big meeting next week, we’re going to do a bit of press around it. It’s called Sprint Alpha. It’s 100 days since we launched the Sprint programme, and our 25 exemplars that we revealed in the government digital strategy and the departmental digital strategies. We’re showing progress on those. We’ll be able to show six or seven of those.

I’m delighted that our minister and other ministers will be attending that, and crucially, we’ve got the Permanent Secretaries, who have sacrificed their Wednesday meeting to take some time to host a panel debate around the exemplar. We’ve really got buy-in all the way through the system. Next week is a time that we start to show some of the work that particularly the Transformation team and others here have been doing with departments to show how the transactions are coming to life. It’s a big event, and I’m really delighted that we’re getting the alignment between some of the political level, ministerial and all the departments.

Giles: Where have GDS staff been visiting this week?

Mike: Well, we get out and about around government, and around our exemplar sites. But one notable thing this week is a little further afield, where David Rennie, who leads on our commercial relations in the identity area, has been out in America at the Cloud Identity summit, because what we’re doing is seen to be leading around the world. We’re looking forward to hearing what he has had to say when he’s out there, and how well received that’s been.

Internally, we’ve had a lot of people visiting GDS from inside the system. Perhaps most notable would be Vernon Everitt and Phil Young from TfL (Transport for London), and they came to show us what they’re doing with open data and how that is transforming transport services in London. It’s very interesting to see what they’re doing.

Giles: Anything else interesting been happening?

Mike: Well, we’ve been looking at user traffic for GOV.UK. You always want to know if what you’re putting out there is being used by people. We had some good indicators this week. Firstly, with all the trouble in Egypt, we saw a six-fold increase in our Egyptian content, and content about Egypt on GOV.UK, our travel advice service as well, so that was useful to see that people are using it.

Probably more obviously, last Sunday we had a dip in traffic on a Sunday afternoon, when there was a certain tennis match going on. Well done to Andy Murray, he shows that he can affect traffic to GOV.UK. Apart from that, it's a good week. I’d like to welcome a few people. We’ve got new people coming in to help us deliver our exemplars, and to roll out GOV.UK. I just want to give a special mention to John Oates, who’s joined us on the content design team.

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