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GDS creates legacy transition team



Stephen Foreshew-Cain says aim is to help organisations share experience and 'join the dots' as they move away from legacy IT systems

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is creating a team to assist organisations in moving away from legacy systems in taking up the products and platforms it is developing for government.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain, director general of GDS, said the team will focus largely on bringing together organisations with similar challenges to share what they have learned with each other.

Speaking at the Think Cloud for Digital Government Conference, he responded to a question from the audience about dealing with the legacy “debt” in central government by acknowledging it was a tricky issue, complicated by the need to keep operations running.

“How do we push forward in the transformation of government when we recognise a lot of things in the operation of government have to continue?” he said.

“There's no one answer across government. We are building within GDS a small team who can help plan the future of technology legacy remediation to accelerate the assumption of the new estate. It's very different department by department, agency by agency.

“What we are finding though, is that as we lift the veil on some of these things and connect people across government who are trying to solve the same problems, we're starting to see that acceleration happen. I think that's the role GDS can play.”

Spotting opportunities

Foreshew-Cain told UKAuthority the work is developing within the Common Technology Services programme and that it will focus partly on helping organisations to spot when they have a good opportunity to move away from legacy systems.

He also responded to a question about how GDS can support local government by emphasising it is not resourced to do so, but that it is designing its various products to be available throughout the public sector.

“We have the principle that says if we build the platforms once and build them well, then make them available, they should have a value to local. There's certainly a lot of energy at the moment in looking at how programmes such as Verify can be used in local government and health.

“We're also making all of our standards, guidance and designs available. The central government licensing pattern should have value in the local space as well.”

The issue has gone up the agenda since last November's Government Spending Review, in which local government received no money specifically to support its digital initiatives. This contrasted sharply with the £450 million provided to GDS up to 2020.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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