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Government wants 90% 'of online population' to use digital public services



Efficiency and reform paper sets out 'JFDI' ambitions for next parliament

The government has set a target for 90% of the online population to be using digital channels to public services by 2020. The figure - the first explicit numerical target for "digital by default" usage - appears in Efficiency and Reform in the next Parliament, a document published by the Treasury and Cabinet Office to back up last week's autumn statement.

A target of 90 per cent "average digital uptake" heads a list of objectives for the next five years. Others include to:

  • Make it easier to make online payments to the government, especially from mobile devices. A new common payments platform will be available by 2016, to be used by all Whitehall departments and offered to the wider public sector.
  • Simplify the tracking of applications, renewals and requests "just as you can track a parcel delivery online". Tracking will be available for five major services by 2016.
  • Design a common appointments platform for booking face-to-face services, from driving tests to visa interviews.

The plan highlights the government's ambition "to move beyond just online services to a 'Government as a platform' digital model exemplified by the current GOV.UK Verify programme."

Announcing the plan, Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, said: "Achieving £20 billion of further efficiency and reform savings for 2019 to 2020 will require very substantial commitment and drive from ministers and officials at the centre and right across departments. Our approach over the past four years was to forsake the usual big bang white paper, and instead to identify best practice and replicate it. We had no place for advisors who say 'I can see that this will work in practice but it won't work in theory'. This approach has paid dividends. It's what I call the JFDI school of government - just do it."

As a case study of its plans, the efficiency and reform paper relaunches the 2003 plan for a digital end-to-end criminal justice system "where information is captured once by a police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system without duplication or reworking". It says that the Government Digital Service "will support the Ministry of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office, and police and crime commissioners to make this transformation".

The announcement coincided with a failure of the XHIBIT court information system, which the Ministry of Justice blamed on a failure at a supplier's data centre.

Pictured: Francis Maude by Paul Clarke © |

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