Home Office develops innovation strategy

CDIO Davinson says the biggest challenge is ensuring sufficient investment in the ‘underpinning capabilities’


By Sam Trendall

25 Sep 2019

Kirsty O'Connor/PA Archive/PA Images

The Home Office has created its own departmental innovation plan which “docks into” the wider government strategy published earlier this year.

After almost a year in development, in June the Government Digital Service published the Government Technology Innovation Strategy. The document – which is designed to help departments prepare for the now-delayed spending review – sets out a range of measures across three areas: people; process; and data and technology.

Plans outlined in the strategy included an upcoming initiative to map the use of legacy technology across government and put in place a plan to update it. Other proposals put forward include the introduction of a programme of industry secondments for Whitehall officials, and plans to revamp the use of business cases to better enable departments to collaborate in support of shared ambitions.


Speaking at the techUK Building the Smarter State conference in London last week, Home Office chief digital and information officer Joanna Davinson revealed that her department has its own innovation plan that “docks into the GDS innovation strategy”.

She said that the Home Office’s agencies in the fields of security and law enforcement mean the department often works with new technologies.

“We have access to some quite innovative technology because of some of the client sites we work on – the main challenge is how we harness that [innovation] into productivity at an enterprise scale,” she said. “How do we manage the innovation pipeline?”

Davinson said that one of the principal obstacles to rolling out innovative products or methods at large scale is convincing people – particularly leadership figures – to dedicate resources to implementing the infrastructure and skills to support innovation.

“We have no trouble getting people – at any level – excited about the next best thing,” she said. “What I have more of a challenge with is getting people to invest in the underpinning capabilities that we need.”

The strategy noted that the Home Office was one of a number of departments – including HM Revenue and Customs, and the Departments for Transport, Work and Pensions, and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – to have set up its own innovation team.

“The creation of these teams show that departments are eager to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by new technologies,” the strategy said. “Our engagement suggests that these teams can struggle to access funding for projects involving emerging technologies.”

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