This has been a busy and significant week for government’s reform of technology, and its role in improving our public services.
On Tuesday, the UK government’s Chief Technology Officer, Liam Maxwell, posted a blog on Rebalancing technology across government. He set out a clear vision and statement of direction for government technology, founded on three guiding principles:
- focusing on user needs, ensuring that technology becomes so good that our colleagues, citizens and businesses want to use it
- putting outcomes first; such as reductions in cost per transaction
- using ‘openness’ to our advantage – open data, open standards, open source, open markets
His blog post accompanied the release of Government Service Design Manual guidance aimed at supporting Chief Technology Officers and related technology functions across the public sector. It followed on from earlier and ongoing changes to governance, discussed in Mike Bracken’s March 14th blog post. Liam’s interview with Kathleen Hall in Computer Weekly is also worth a read.
The Resources for Chief Technology Officers consolidates expertise in contemporary technology practice and reflects the best of what is happening in both private and public sectors. The guidance will doubtless be added to and enhanced over time (since the whole approach to the design manual is — sensibly — to make it a living, breathing practical set of guidance informed by experience and best practice). In the meantime, the guidance already covers numerous aspects of effective governance and implementation, including (in no particular order):
- Creating a culture that supports change
- End user devices
- Government as a platform
- Security as enabler
- Service integration and management
- Spending controls
- Technology architecture
- Technology code of practice
The guidance further empowers CTOs to help transform the role of technology in our public services as they continue working alongside their users, digital leaders and chief operating officers. I expect some of it may appear quite radical to those less close to current best practice — the guidance on Creating a culture that supports change provides insight into the level of reform happening in government technology and the changes required to some of the older, less successful approaches.
As if all of this were not enough for one week, last night saw the announcement of the 2013 CIO100, in which public sector CxOs featured strongly. From James Thomas, CIO at UCLH NHS Trust at No 1, to Liam Maxwell at No 10 and a whole host of others — notably in local government, where meaningful improvements are being delivered in some very challenging financial environments — it was a timely reminder of how the right talent and leadership in technology helps transform our public services in enormously beneficial ways.
A video of UCLH’s Macmillan Cancer Centre is below — showing what happens when users (patients in this case) are placed at the centre of design. It’s a small taste of how our future NHS, and the wider public sector, could be — if we ensure the right talent, people and leadership are in the right place …
Transparency declaration: … I am on the judging panel for the CIO100.