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Starting with discovery: Department Transformation

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital Service Platforms

A week or so ago, Felicity Singleton wrote about preparing for Government as a Platform.

Felicity talked about four workstreams we’ve begun to look at as part of our preparation work. One of those workstreams is called Department Transformation, which Felicity describes like this:

Finding out how we can make the structure of government even more invisible to users. When a task requires the user to deal with several different departments, how can we break down those invisible barriers and make the whole thing easier? How can we make things better for users and for the teams running the services?

So, the first part of this work is to investigate what that means for users. (Because we always start with user needs).

Photo of Mark O'Neill - Department Transformation presenting

Where to begin

People get frustrated with government when they have to share the same information with different agencies time and time again. If we can make it simpler to easily and safely share information, we can help them work faster and more efficiently. And, we can make things simpler, clearer, and faster for users.

We’ve started by looking at three user journeys where users have to share information with several different organisations:

  • people’s experience of the criminal justice system
  • moving goods across the border
  • people coming to and remaining in the UK

Bringing things together

Previously, departments and agencies have often worked in relative isolation when faced with the challenge of service delivery and transformation. The size and scale of their operations are so large and complex that some of their main concerns are the duplication of processes, services, and requests for information.

For example, there are more than 70 IT systems that manage similar sets of information for the criminal justice system and they are managed by different organisations. Systems such as the Police National Computer, the case management system for the magistrates courts (LIBRA), and the system that holds information about all prisoners in the system (NOMIS). We’re working collaboratively across multiple organisations to find out if shared platforms will transform these user journeys.

If we can make building blocks of code and functionality that can be re-used more widely across government, this can help to transform more departments and services too. We believe this will save money and provide better services.

Start with discovery

In recent weeks we’ve been in the discovery phase - speaking to users (citizens and businesses), government departments and agencies, service providers and colleagues from across GDS to make sure we have a really good understanding of what the user needs are.

That discovery work will be finished soon. When it is, we’ll write another post here with some findings and thoughts.

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  1. Comment by Anne Grikitis posted on

    I've no doubt that you are doing this, but full engagement with small businesses will be key to the success of this initiative. From my own experience, there may be a high level of concern amongst small businesses that commercially sensitive data will be passed around from department to department with a potentially prejudicial impact on their profitability.

    • Replies to Anne Grikitis>

      Comment by Mark O'Neill posted on

      Thanks, yes we are working closely with businesses, both large and small, to understand their needs of government in these areas. In the work we are doing to understand the movement of goods across the border, we conducted user research with a number of small businesses and sole traders to better understand how we can help them export more effectively.

      The correct use and security of data is very important to us. Colleagues here in GDS are working on some core principles around data and how we use it in government. As soon they're ready, we'll share them here.