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Maude tells Sprint 14: 'Honey I shrunk the digital costs'

29/01/14

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude addresses Sprint 14The government's digital transformation programme is on track to save £1.2bn over the course of this parliament alone and over £1.7bn a year after 2015. Announcing the rapidly shrinking costs just 200 working days after launching the challenge to transform 25 key government services, Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude invited a collection of ministers and department bigwigs to give the Sprint 14 audience a live demo of their digital transformation results.

A brave move when relying on an external venue's wifi. However, the odd wifi glitche did nothing to diminish the impressiveness of the solutions showcased: truly so easy to use that a minister could demo them in front of 400 civil servants and the odd journalist.

Greg Clark, minister of state for the cabinet office, kicked off the demoes by registering to vote - a simple and elegant process that collated and checked key information before sending details to the right local electoral registration officer - along with a flag to highlight any suspicious activity that the officer might want to look investigate further. The facility will be available by June this year, with every citizen in the country able to register online to vote by the end of 2014.

Mike Parsons, COO and digital leader at the Home Office (and digital leader) walked the audience through the process for applying for or extending a Tier 2 Priority Visa. Crucially, he explained, the focus was on creating a modular product catalogue of digital building blocks that could be reused across the department's services - or shared with other departments.

David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the treasury, was next up to demonstrate how simple it would be to tell HMRC about a change to your company car - and indeed take control of PAYE details and pay tax due online. The service is the first to use GDS Identity Assurance Service; today's demonstration validated the application via Experian. The service is due for 'private beta' launch in a few weeks' time and, according to Gauke, "is just a taster of bigger changes to come. In future you will be able to use a smartphone, laptop or tablet to manage your tax affairs."

Oliver Morley, chief executive at the DVLA, said that his agency aimed to make being on the road 'simpler, better, safer', and that the new online facility would play a key part in delivering these aims. The new Driver Record programme - part of a wider set of deliverables, including removal of car tax disc and paper counterpart in 2015 - will save around £14m compared to previous service delivery costs. Despite the simplicity, Morley explained that 13 rounds of user testing had been involved: "It looks incredibly simple, but has taken a lot of work to get here."

Jeremy Wright, minister for prisons and rehabilitation, gave the final demonstration: enabling people to plan and book prison visits to loved ones online. This, he said, would not only dramatically speed up a currently paper-laden and slow process and make life easier for citizens, but would also deliver huge savings in staff time. The facility is currently being tested in three prisons, with a wider test planned for the summer before roll out to the public.

More info about the Digital Transformation Exemplars can be found at https://www.gov.uk/transformation

 

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