IT industry association techUK has called for a renewed emphasis on digital transformation in government with the appointment of a ministerial champion in each Whitehall department.
It is one of a number of measures affecting the public sector as part of a series of recommendations in its 2019 manifesto, published with the UK general election just a couple of weeks away.
The document covers a broad range of issues around digital technology, with an emphasis on its role in supporting economic growth and improving the performance of the public sector.
Its first section, on ‘building the smarter state’, calls for the ministerial appointments in each department as an important step in pushing digital transformation. Each minister would have explicit responsibility for evangelising innovation and overseeing business transformation.
Another step would involve ensuring that any new devolution deals incorporate a digital strategy, with the appointment of chief digital officers for each region. The manifesto highlights the recently launched London Office of Technology and Innovation as a model of how local authorities can work together on exploiting digital tech.
Health service priorities
It also points to the need to keep up the digital drive in the NHS, saying that NHSX – the policy group for digital located in the Department for Health and Social Care – should have its innovation funding ringfenced. Also, NHS trusts should be supported in implementing the digital basics such as Wi-Fi, secure single sign-on and peer-to-peer communication tools.
Other recommendations in the section are to continue building digital skills and capabilities across government and drive innovation through open data and procurement. The latter would involve opening up more government data for tech companies to use in developing new solutions.
The other four sections take in: driving innovation and investment in the digital economy; ensuring a safe and secure digital world; expanding skills, talents and opportunities; and placing the UK at the heart of the global digital economy.
Among the specific recommendations with a strong relevance to the public sector are the development of a safe digital identity market, the delivery of a new National Cyber Security Strategy in 2021, and the introduction of a digital and media literacy curriculum for schoolchildren.
Julian David (pictured), CEO of techUK, said: “To move forward towards a better future, we need to be both optimistic about the opportunities ahead and realistic about the challenges we face.
“The UK must build on its success not only to be the best place to start, grow and scale a tech business, but also to lead the world in using digital technology for good - to make things better for people, society, the economy and our planet.
“This manifesto sets out how the next government can make this happen. Together, let’s work towards a better future.”