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GDS updates Technology Code of Practice



Government CTO Andy Beale releases draft version with features on accessibility and more detail on procurement

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is looking to update the Technology Code of Practice for central government, with a new draft and a call for input into a final version.

Andy Beale, the government chief technology officer, says in a blogpost the new version reflects changes in good practice and technology since the first one was published in 2013.

The priorities are to encourage a more mature approach to sourcing IT, promoting competition among suppliers, supporting decisions on when to design solutions and when to use off-the-shelf software, and promoting a more adaptive approach to technology.

“We want government to continue to be a smarter user of technology, and to do that government needs to be a smarter customer,” Beale says. “The new document reflects an increased focus on good commercial behaviours.

“We also want to recognise the variety of strategic, commercial and business contexts in which government technology work happens, and enable departments and agencies to deliver great technology that meets their needs.”

He adds that GDS is also looking at the spend controls process and how to assess departmental technology plans.

The draft code reiterates much of the earlier version but goes into more detail in some areas, such as the steps towards security, and there are new elements.

These include an emphasis on the accessibility of online services, with a need to follow the relevant guidance and provide assisted digital support when research shows it is needed. Services and systems should be designed with people who suffer visual, hearing, cognitive and physical impairments in mind.

More detail is provided in the guidance on procurement, with references to being explicit over the ownership of intellectual property for software code and rules, and the desirability of break clauses at the two-year mark in contracts, along with usage based billing models and the need for continuous improvement.

The document also points towards the forthcoming availability of new platforms for online services under development by GDS, with Pay and Notify due to join Verify in the coming months.

Beale said the deadline for feedback is 8 July.

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

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