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GDS updates assessments for Digital Service Standard



Changes to place emphasis on more advice and support from early in process, and giving assessors a better understanding of projects

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is testing a new approach to assessing how it provides assurance that new digital services from government organisations meet the Digital Service Standard.

It has said that the change, which is currently in alpha phase, is being made after a series of interviews led to the conclusion that the process is in need of a revamp.

The Digital Service Standard is the set of 18 criteria which all central government’s public facing services have to meet, with an assessment by GDS before going fully live.

According to a GDS blogpost, the changes will be focused on it providing more advice and support from the beginning of projects, and for assessors to gain a deeper understanding of the services. They are also aimed at providing more consistency in the advice and recommendations that organisations receive.

Regular visits

It says that under the new model, assessors will visit teams regularly at their location throughout the development of their service. A lead assessor will be assigned to each service and work with experts on issues such as user research or service design to help identify risks and any areas that need attention.

This should give all assessors a better understanding of the service and enable them to provide immediate, less formal recommendations on progress towards meeting the standard.

Assessors will also have the option to observe meetings involving the whole team – not just the five currently allowed to take part –  see its environment and the interactions with suppliers.

“We’re exploring ways to record the outcomes of visits that will allow service teams to track how they are progressing towards meeting each of the service standard points,” the blog says.

Near the end of the process, the lead assessor will take a ‘buddy’ along to peer review the service team. This should ensure there will still be assurance that a service meets the standard before being made public.

The blogpost also points to two big challenges: making the model sustainable with a limited number of trained assessors; and resolving differences of opinion. There are hopes that ideas on how to deal with these will emerge from the trial.

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