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GlobalData: CDDO – A catalyst for change?
At the recent launch of the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, hosted by techUK, Jacob Rees-Mogg, in his capacity as Minister for Government Efficiencies, spoke warmly of the collaboration between government and the tech industry in the production of the document which outlines 11 key policies to drive forward the agenda for technology-enabled transformation of public services. It is the most visible output from the CDDO since it was set-up early in 2021 as part of an effort to address the stalling of the digitisation of government.
Cynics might say that much of the playbook recycles old ideas and thus will ask what is different this time; after all, other previous Cabinet Office Ministers have presented similar ideas at techUK in the recent past and then swiftly disappeared from view. Indeed, Rees-Mogg himself appears to have promptly handed the baton to Heather Wheeler, a junior minister, to oversee the implementation of the policies.
There are, however, glimpses of new beginnings which offer hope both to senior leaders in Government and to GovTech suppliers. A revived CTO Council has been formed led by the Chief Technology Officer in the CDDO Dan Bailey, comprising representatives form all the key departments and focused on looking at common requirements, reuse of technology and sharing of ideas on innovation. The “Transforming for a digital future” policy paper includes six missions all sponsored by Permanent Secretary level executives across Government. And I was encouraged to hear at the recent Think Digital Identity for Government conference of the collaboration between departments on working towards realising the outcome of the One Login for Government programme, rising from the ashes of Gov.UK Verify.
However, for all the slim rays of a sunlit tech future, there still appears a reluctance at the centre of Government to throw its full weight behind radical change. There have been at least 12 Ministers responsible for transformation of Government in the seven years since Francis Maude relinquished the post. None of them have shown the passion nor longevity of tenure that Maude exuded, as evidenced by the formation of GDS under his watch. Ownership of the digital agenda needs to be powerful and politically aligned.
My major concern for the success of these renewed initiatives, however, lies with the funding process. For all that the CDDO works with departments in building business cases for tech-enabled programmes that meet HM Treasury guidelines, it is the latter that controls the purse strings. Whilst the archaic model of funding on a project-by-project basis over short budgeting cycles means real cross-cutting whole-of-government service delivery is doomed to failure. I raised the question with outgoing CDDO CEO Joanna Davinson at the techUK event, and she agreed it was an issue, but one about which ‘discussions are taking place’. It’s not just me that takes this view though, as none other than Francis (now Lord) Maude voiced a view in discussion with the Institute for Government that there is an argument for splitting the Treasury in two; one arm for collecting revenue and one for agreeing spending priorities, as is done in many other countries. Rishi Sunak may have had his eyes opened to the power of digital transformation through the speedy implementation of the furlough scheme; he now needs to look at the bigger picture, take a brave decision and lobby for restructuring of the budget allocation process.
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This article was written by Rob Anderson Research Director for Central Government in the GlobalData.
Rob Anderson leads research and analysis of Government ICT for GlobalData, one of the world's leading market intelligence providers. With 30+ years involvement in the use of IT in the public sector, Rob is a keen follower of technology-enabled policy delivery and has supported many organisations in driving change, both within IT suppliers and as a public servant.Whilst producing insightful reports on the GovTech market, Rob also delivers keynote addresses at industry events and can regularly be found promoting discussion on pertinent topics across social media platforms. A former Crown Representative, he has a deep understanding of both technology and commercial matters. Learn more and get connected with Rob, via his LinkedIN.
On Tuesday 5 April, techUK was delighted to host the Cabinet Office and industry representatives for the launch event for the UK Government’s Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook which was published on 28 March 2022. The DDaT Sourcing Playbook sets out guidance – in one place – as to how digital projects and programmes are assessed, procured and delivered in central government departments, arms-length bodies and the wider public sector. Through the application of what is commercial best practice, the Playbook addresses 11 key policies and six cross-cutting priorities that will ensure government gets things right from the start when it comes to procurement.
You can watch the recording of the launch event in full here:
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