Better integration could save government £850k per digital service, minister claims

Work to ensure tasks are not replicated across different tools could deliver significant financial benefits
Photo: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

By Sam Trendall

07 May 2021

Work to better integrate digital services could save government as much as £850,000 of spending on each one, a minister has claimed.

A key ambition of government’s digital transformation work in recent years has been to eliminate duplication, and ensure citizens do not have to provide the same information more than once. The oft-stated vision of delivering more end-to-end services – that take as their starting point the citizen’s ultimate goal, such as learning to drive or starting a business – is also dependent on agencies working together to ensure information and tools are collated in one place, and that departmental boundaries are invisible to users.

In addition to these benefits, Cabinet Office minister Lord True said that such work can also save government money. Service integration remains central to government’s digital plans, he added.

“Economic benefits have been measured through case study examples of integrated public services,” he said.

“Analysis of these found the monetisable benefits in avoiding users repeating tasks ranged from £50k to £850k per service, depending on its purpose. Delivering integrated services is key to the government’s approach to digital transformation. The government is committed to increasing the cost-efficiency and quality of online public services.”

Integration of services over the coming months and years will be supported by work to develop GOV.UK accounts, which aim to replace an array of more than 100 means of logging into government platforms with a single, all-encompassing log-in.

Alongside this work, which is being undertaken by the Government Digital Service, the Cabinet Office’s newly created Central Digital and Data Office will evaluate departmental skills, according to True – who was answering a question from crossbench peer Lord Mawson, who asked what “factors that are delaying the integration of public services”.

“The new Central Digital and Data Office is currently working with government departments to assess digital, data and technology capability,” True said.

“In recent years, there have been significant changes to the way organisations provide services and to user expectations. It’s now commonplace for services to be: personalised and proactive; low-friction; available on any device and multiple channels, like voice assistant.”

The minister added that the government tracks its service-integration progress against European counterparts, with which it also shares guidance.

“The UK participates annually in the EU National Interoperability Framework Observatory,” he said.

“This provides regular monitoring of the state of play of interoperability and digital public services in Europe, enabling contributor countries to share best practices and measure their performance.”

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this article first appeared.

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