This report from UK think tank Reform looks at how to ensure the resilience of public services through digital transformation.
The challenges that arose with service delivery during COVID-19 – from lockdown and remote working to increased demand – further cemented the benefits of having the right digital infrastructure in place. Government Departments which had been more successful in digital transformation were able to scale up services with ease to meet demand. Those areas of the public sector which had not, initially found it difficult deliver a digital first service especially in a lockdown. The issues described above have been known about for some time, however COVID-19 has laid them bare and provided new impetus for change. This research provides three ideas for the government going forward to help the public sector on its transformation journey: First, it argues a cross-government digital skills strategy, and a refocusing on digital leadership, will provide a foundation for success. The report welcomes the creation of the new Central Digital and Data Office for Government (CDDO), and argues there need to be a clear focus going forward on retaining digital leaders, potentially reviewing pay-scales for those with the highest level of technical skills. Second, given that there is already comprehensive guidance already for moving away from legacy IT provided to the public sector, the barriers to public sector organisations adopting this need to be identified. As the Cabinet Office works to create its strategy for moving away from legacy IT, they should prioritise identifying these barriers, potentially exploring a cross-government legacy IT fund. Third, the Government needs to get smarter with its spending structures. Specifically it should review the limits on availability for resource spending for technology as a service. Currently the ability to buy pay-per-use technology is limited by the amount allocated in resource expenditure. This technology can often however remove the need for capital investment in hardware, servers and computer storage and departments should therefore have more flexibility in how they can spend money on IT.Read Full Report