Maxwell: GDS will eventually step back from delivery in departments

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is not intended to continue working in its current form forever and will eventually step back from working on department's transaction services, Liam Maxwell, the government’s chief technology officer, has told Civil Service World.

By Joshua.Chambers

12 Jun 2013

Speaking in an interview, he said: “GDS is here to help people. We help them, we get them going, we work with them and then, eventually, they will deliver the services themselves.” At that point, he continued “they don’t need us to deliver services with them”.

The plan is that the “GDS essentially becomes a set of standards,” he added. It will continue to work on centralised projects such as the website, but will eventually leave the management and operation of transaction services to departments.

The GDS works on a model of “for you, with you, by you,” Maxwell said – first leading, then partnering, then supporting. At present, it is actively helping to rebuild departments’ services to make them ‘digital by default’. The GDS will then move to a model of working with departments on redesign work; and, ultimately, will just set standards so that work is performed solely by departments, he explained.

Maxwell said that the GDS will not move to this model of only setting standards during this Parliament. “I think there will, for some considerable time, be a bunch of people here who are delivering [transaction] services,” he said.

Meanwhile, the GDS last month released a new set of standards which will apply to all new or redesigned government services processing more than 100,000 transactions a year.

Maxwell told CSW that this “shared” set of standards has been developed with departmental CIOs. “This is our best practice manual,” he said: it will allow “everybody to see what we’ve agreed is the way forward for departments, and how we work with them.”

The Digital by Default Service Standards will apply to all services being launched from April 2014. They include stipulations such as assembling a multi-disciplinary team “led by a single, suitably skilled and empowered Service Manager”; designing a service with “the same look, feel and tone as”; and planning to phase out existing channels where appropriate.

Departments will need to demonstrate that they are meeting the standards in order to receive funding for the eligible services. And services will need to be approved by a ‘Go Live’ panel, chaired by the GDS, before they can be launched.

Once live, services will have to meet agreed performance targets to demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the standards, or have a written warning placed on the start page of the transaction stating that the service does not meet the GDS standard and apologising to users.

Read the full interview with Liam Maxwell.

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