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GDS claims £4 billion savings for government IT

09/12/16

Fifth anniversary milestones also include 3 billion visits to GOV.UK, while organisation lays plans for regional academies and API roadmap

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has claimed that improving the use of IT and digital services has saved government £4 billion in the five years since it was set up.

It has also claimed a string of statistical successes for GOV.UK, the platform for central government websites that was its first major project.

The organisation’s claim of big savings reflects the thrust of much of the early work in the Cabinet Office under previous minister Francis Maude, although they also suggest a slowing of momentum since April 2015.

GDS has broken down the figures to indicate the savings totalled £391 million in the months of the first financial year, followed by £3.56 billion over the following three, then £339 million in 2015-16.

Standards role

It attributed this largely to working with government departments on the adoption of its Technology Code of Practice, which sets standards for the design, build and procurement of digital tech.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer said: We want to save people time and effort - and save the taxpayer money. So it is great to see that GDS is celebrating turning five by once again illustrating how we are saving millions for the public purse while helping citizens and businesses access the vital public services they rely on.”

Extending the flag waving, GDS claimed that usage of GOV.UK has been on an upward trend, with more than 3 billion visits since 2012 and 1 billion in the past year. It added that traffic has gone up from 14 million users in November 2012 to more than 40 million now.

The accolades will be tempered somewhat by the revelation earlier this week that almost three quarters of the content on the site is looked at by less than 10 people per month. This prompted Trisha Doyle, head of content design at GDS, to talk of a need to reduce the volumes and better organising the content.

Kevin CunningtonThe announcement has been accompanied by indications from GDS chief Kevin Cunnington (pictured) that it is going to set up eight regional digital academies, to provide training for 3,000 people per year across government.

It is also aiming to break down the barriers in legacy IT systems that get in the way of departments sharing information, partly through the publication of a roadmap of open APIs for data. Cunnington acknowledged that this needs considerable attention to the security and ethical elements of sharing data.

Diversity

He also said it will be a priority to increase take-up of the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance system for online services, and to continue with efforts to build a more diverse workforce in government IT.

“Although there is no ‘finish line’ for digital transformation, we can set targets,” he said. “There are fewer than 1,000 working days until 2020, and we want to see as many of these objectives realised as we can. That means there is a lot of work for us to do.”

GDS is currently under review by the National Audit Office, which is looking at how well it is placed to support digital transformation efforts in government, and plans to published a report during spring 2017.

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