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Scotland looks to ‘digital businesses’ in government

23/03/17

Public sector elements of new national digital strategy follow path taken by UK central government

Digital should be taking centre stage in Scottish government organisations, with all expected to develop a relevant business model under the new national digital strategy, published yesterday.

Scottish flagThe Scottish Government has included a raft of measures for the public sector within the plan, most of which reflect the steps taken by the UK Government over recent years.

It is part of the broader strategy, titled Realising Scotland’s full potential in a Digital World, aimed at boosting the number of digital jobs to 150,000 by 2021, and ensuring that every premises in the country can access broadband speeds of up 30Mbps.

The public sector element of the document includes the intent to establish all new government organisations as digital businesses based on a clear business model. This reflects the assertion that digital technology will enable the transformation of the Scottish Government, and that it expects all of its delivery organisations to set out plans for change.

While there are few details about how this should be done, the strategy does include a requirement for chief digital officers, or their equivalents, in the public sector to develop joint action plans and look at the potential of emerging technologies such as blockchain. Also, all central digital services are expected to meet the Digital First Service Standard.

Harder line

Most other plans are indicated as bullet points that point to the Scottish Government repeating many of the measures already implemented in Whitehall over recent years, although there are some in which it is apparently taking a harder line in mandating courses of action. They include:

  • Mandating the use of common platforms and infrastructure across the Scottish Government.
  • Establishing shared technology platforms, beginning with common approaches to publishing, applying for services and payments.
  • Consolidating government websites into mygov.scot.
  • Moving public sector data to the cloud wherever appropriate.
  • Setting up a Registers platform as single sources of information.
  • Reviewing all major software licensing arrangements to ensure value for money.
  • Implementing new assurance processes for central government projects, with the power to stop those that are off course.
  • Introducing a new digital, data and technology profession within the Scottish Government.
  • Introducing cloud based collaboration tools.
  • Increasing the use of open standards to improve interoperability.
  • Developing a platform for public sector datasets.
  • Publishing non-personal data on statistics.gov.scot.
  • Giving public sector leaders the chance to attend a Digital Champions programme.
  • Developing a national e-purse for use on public transport.
  • Increasing the use of digital technology in the justice system.
  • Testing electronic voting solutions.
  • Introducing new digital services in the conveyancing process.

Among the broader elements of the strategy aimed at supporting business is the development of a single sign-in and authentication process, and a strong emphasis on cyber security. The latter includes the take-up of Cyber Essentials as a baseline standard for all organisations.

Competitive vision

Launching the strategy, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution Derek Mackay said: “Our vision is for Scotland to become even more digitally competitive and attractive.

“By developing our existing workforce and increasing our digital capabilities across society and the business community, we will ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to improve their digital skills with everyone who wants to get connected able to do so, and public services designed by and for citizens that are secure. This will in turn will have a positive impact on growing our economy.”

Image by flickrtickr2009 from Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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