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In brief... 11 September 2015



Bracken calls for cross-Whitehall collaboration

The outgoing head of the Government Digital Service, Mike Bracken, has stressed the importance of both genuine collaboration across Whitehall, and the retention of a strong central digital function.

In one of his last blog posts before he leaves the civil service in October, Bracken writes: “We need a digital centre in government, a team that can build connections and interdependencies where they’re needed.” But the digital chief argues that “It’s not about us. It’s about collaboration.” The GDS “cannot know each department’s users and user needs well enough to do all the work on its own. Similarly, those departments need help from the centre to build their own digital teams and skills, to understand and meet standards, to get encouragement and support for doing the right thing.

“Good collaboration is more than just having a meeting with colleagues from other departments,” he continues. “It’s more than just working together in the same building or even the same room. It means talking through the issues, communicating them well and making sure everyone on the team understands them. It works best when teams have permission to innovate and experiment. Nobody needs more forms, they just need freedom to explore what’s possible. It’s harder, and less common, than you might think.

Bracken lists examples of good cross-Whitehall collaboration on digital services, and promises more to come. But his blog is also a plea for better teamworking and GDS funding: he has talked in the past of his frustration at the difficulty of getting departments to collaborate and to share digital platforms and capabilities, and of the importance of the forthcoming spending review for the GDS’s capabilities.

Pictured: Mike Bracken by Paul Clarke © |


Public services to bid for Internet of Things cash

A three-year programme of work to support the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) has been launched, designed to “advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.”

Backed by the Digital Catapult and the Future Cities Catapult, IoTUK will “focus on enabling the UK’s businesses and public sector to make advances in creating their IoT capability, specifically in areas such as security and trust, data interoperability, investment justification and design development.”

As well as supporting UK businesses in the field, IoTUK will work with public sector organisations on issues such as healthcare and city infrastructure. Funding will be made available via Innovate UK, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Economy Unit, NHS England, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).


New Verify providers undergo tests

The government’s Verify online identity assurance programme aims to complete tests on five new certified providers by January, meaning that service users will be able to choose from nine companies when Verify opens for business in April.

Blogging on Wednesday, Identity Assurance Programme director Janet Hughes said the five – Barclays, Paypal, Morpho, Royal Mail and GB Group – are currently undertaking an “on boarding” process designed to ensure that they meet the required identity proofing and verification standards; work well for users; are ready for live operations; and are able to integrate with Verify.

“We expect about 30 government services to be using GOV.UK Verify by April 2016, and… 20 or so to join in 2016/17,” she wrote. “GOV.UK Verify can cover approximately 80% of the UK adult population now (up from about 65% at the start of our public beta), and we have plans to increase this to 90% by April 2016.”

Figures released alongside the blog reveal that the success rate for those attempting to create a Verify account was 69% on 6 September, having varied between 59% and 81% since July 12 – and risen from 90% when the public beta was launched. Hughes aims to increase the figure to 90% by April.


Civica buys software firm Web Technology Group

Technology and outsourcing business Civica has acquired the Web Technology Group, a London-based SME that specialises in providing secure digital services for public sector clients.

Civica, which serves public sector organisations in the UK, North America, the Far East and Australasia, has been on a spending spree recently: last year it bought the businesses Asidua, Coldharbour Systems, Keystone, Infomaster Pty and Inspiriti.

Estabished as Hyperlink in 1994, WTG has a client list that includes the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the National Crime Agency.

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