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Scots work on Digital First Service Standard



Draft standard for Scottish service design brings together UK and Australian approaches to assessments – and adds extra principles to UK standard

The Digital Directorate of the Scottish Government has published a draft service standard for any digital services to be made available through the platform.

It is drawing on the experiences of the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) with its Digital by Default Service Standard, and the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Office – with an indication that the Scottish approach could be a hybrid of the two.

Scott McLear, the directorate’s communications and engagement manager, has outlined the work in a blogpost that says, while a version of the standard has been published, it is still working on a model regarded as best for the Scottish public sector. The standard will apply to any service running through the central portal for the country’s online public services.

Extra requirements

He says the directorate team has used the UK standard as a foundation, but that the Scottish version includes extra requirements. These cover a preference for open data – making all non-sensitive data available for re-use under an appropriate licence – making services as green as possible, and adopting cloud computing or virtualisation as the preferred approaches in data hosting for a service.

Among the other features of the standard are the familiar requirements of understanding user needs, working with cross-functional teams, building services that can be iterated and improved on, and an emphasis on open source and open standards.

A team from the directorate has visited GDS to watch its service assessments in practice, with the aim of building an understanding of how they should work in the smaller setting of the Scottish public sector.

It has also been taking note of the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Office’s (DTO) service assessment process. McLear highlights its emphasis on regular ‘check-ins’ during the design of a service, saying it ensures there are no deal breaking problems when a service reaches assessment.

The priorities for a Scottish standard include ensuring the assessment process is not a burden for the relevant organisations, and that the directorate should be ready to provide advice for delivery teams before they begin the design of a new service. Also, services should meet the standard in advance of the official assessment.

McLear says: “Where does that leave us? Probably somewhere in the middle of the approaches we’ve looked at (with a slight nudge in the direction of the DTO’s approach).”

In December the Scottish Government set up an Alpha Development Fund, as part of its £116 million investment in digital infrastructure, to support digital public services. It indicated that the Digital Directorate would be in charge of the fund.

Image from Scottish Government, Open Government Licence v3.0


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