Government’s digital and data strategy explained

Why do we need a digital and data strategy?

The government has a set of ambitious priorities, from Net Zero, the plan to decarbonise our economy to net zero by 2050, to Levelling Up, the programme to spread opportunity more equally across the UK. These priorities and others could be delivered more quickly and more effectively through wider use of digital and data. Improving the way we use digital and data will also enable the government to operate more efficiently, delivering savings for the taxpayer.

New technology has revolutionised every aspect of our society and the economy, including the way that we deliver our public services. The government has come a long way over the past ten years to improve use of digital and data. In many areas, however, we still lag behind the private sector and other countries around the world.

Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service, explains why the government has published a new digital and data strategy.

Where will we be by 2025 and how will we get there?

The new digital and data strategy is designed to address these problems and deliver a step-change through a clear vision and a specific plan.

Our vision for 2025 is to be:

A transformed, more efficient digital government that provides better outcomes for everyone.

To achieve this, the strategy includes six missions which address the biggest challenges we face. For each mission, it sets out a series of commitments which we will deliver collectively in order to reach our vision.

Watch the video below for more information on the six missions.

How has the strategy been written?

The creation of this strategy has involved collaboration and Permanent Secretary leadership for the digital and data agenda on a scale never seen before. This strategy has been developed with government’s most senior leaders alongside digital experts from across and beyond government. Together, we have worked to develop commitments that are concrete, measurable and ambitious, but also achievable.

Joanna Davinson, Executive Director from 2021-2022, Central Digital and Data Office, talks about how the strategy has been created and the impact it will have.

Infographic for Mission One of the Strategy - a flowchart with bubbles of confused faces and exclamation points leading to a screen with a green tick

Mission One: Transformed public services that achieve the right outcomes

Sponsored by Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of HM Prison & Probation Service in April 2019 and Second Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

  Infographic for Mission Two of the Strategy - a computer screen with a generic login page

Mission Two: One Login for Government

Sponsored by Jim Harra, Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue and Customs.

 Infographic for Mission Three of the Strategy - an graphic of two computer windows presenting different charts

Mission Three: Better data to power decision making

Sponsored by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority.

Infographic for Mission Four of the Strategy - graphics overlaid with a phone and trees/grass

Mission Four: Efficient, secure and sustainable technology

Sponsored by Laurence Lee, Second Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

 Infographic for Mission Five of the Strategy - graphic of laptop with bubbles of icons related to digital such as settings wheel cog, wireless, magnifying glass, padlock, cloud, envelope

Mission Five: Digital skills at scale

Sponsored by Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

 Infographic for Mission Six of the Strategy - graphic computer window with wrench overlaid in corner surrounded by other digital icons such wireless, telephone, network, magnifying glass for search

Mission Six: A system that unlocks digital transformation

Sponsored by Cat Little, Second Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury and Head of the Government Finance Function

How the strategy will improve government services, efficiency and skills

Better public services

Millions of people interact with the government every week, for example to register a birth or death, set up a business, or access a benefit they’re entitled to such as Universal Credit. Just as in other parts of life, those interactions are increasingly happening online.

The digital and data strategy will improve the most used services so that they will be easier to find, access and complete. This will make it quicker and easier for people to access the services and information they need. It will also make services run more efficiently, helping to reduce the cost of government.

Jim Harra, Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue and Customs, explains how the strategy will improve public services for citizens.

A more efficient government

The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and Build Back Better, it’s more important than ever to deliver savings for the taxpayer.

Digital is recognised in the private sector as the core driver of efficiency, but we are not yet harnessing its potential across the government. Private companies have reduced costs, sped up delivery times and improved user experience by focusing on end-to-end digital transformation of services, using agile, product-centric ways of working and investing in modern technology and systems.

Some digital teams across government are already working to save money for the taxpayer through better use of digital and data. For example, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) saved £138 million in 2020/21 by replacing the department’s two largest IT contracts with a more cost effective approach.

A more digitally skilled Civil Service

Government needs to have the best digital talent. This strategy explains how we will ensure that government has the digital, data and technology specialists needed to build and maintain world-class digital services for the people we serve.

It’s not only people who work in digital, data and technology teams who need great digital skills, however. All civil servants need to build their digital and data skills in order to work more efficiently and more effectively, for example by using data to design new policies or using new technology to work with colleagues based in other locations.

Gina Gill, Chief Digital and Information Officer, Ministry of Justice, explains how new approaches can improve government policy and services.

How we are delivering on the commitments

Back of two women posting green post-it notes on a yellow wall

When we published the strategy in June 2022, we committed to providing an update on the progress we have made every six months.

You can read the first update which was published on the CDDO blog in early 2023.

Since launch, CDDO, in partnership with departments, has been putting the foundations in place and delivering initial milestones on the road to 2025.

Across government, thousands of colleagues in the Digital, Data and Technology profession have been creating policy and services powered by data and technology to respond to the biggest challenges we face.

We’ve used cross-departmental governance – including the Permanent Secretary Digital and Data Board, the Functional Leadership Group (of Chief Digital and Information Officers), as well as the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Officer councils – to drive forward progress.

 

  • Mission One: CDDO has worked with departments to create a single definition for what a ‘great’ government service looks like and baselined many of the Top 75 services against it. We’re currently refreshing the Top 75 list to reflect the government’s highest priorities, and we’re working to embed single service owners, better performance data culture and increase the prevalence of cross-functional teams. You can read our blog which says more about our approach to transforming government services.

 

 

  • Mission Three: We’ve been developing the Data Marketplace, including a prototype data catalogue. This improves the discoverability of our data, enabling civil servants to understand what data exists that meets their business and service needs. You can read our blog post on how we’re shaping the Data Marketplace. Alongside this, the Chief Data Officer Council has been shaping a common data ownership model which sets out the core responsibilities and roles to support consistent data governance.

 

  • Mission Four: CDDO has worked with the Chief Technology Officers network to identify the greatest opportunities for our technology reuse programme, ‘buy once, use many’. We’ve also launched a risk framework to identify and assess the highest risk legacy technology across government. In addition, we’ve launched and grown the Technical Cloud Community across government. You can read about the Technical Cloud Community on our blog.

 

 

  • Mission Six: We’ve begun addressing some of the systemic barriers to digital transformation. This includes working with HM Treasury on updates to budgeting guidance to help make it simpler for teams to manage their allocation. We’ve also published an updated Digital Functional Standard for senior leaders across government to use. You can read about the Digital Functional Standard on our blog.

Central Digital and Data Office Chair, Paul Willmott, commented:

Headshot of Paul Willmott, Chair of CDDO

“The first six months has seen CDDO and GDS collaborate at scale with colleagues across departments and lay important foundations for delivery. This progress has been admirable in a challenging environment and I’d extend my particular thanks to my Permanent Secretary colleagues including the six mission sponsors for their continued focus on driving the digital agenda forward.”

You can read more about how teams across government are coming together to deliver the strategy below.

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The Government’s digital and data strategy has been published by the Central Digital and Data Office, part of the Cabinet Office.

Central Digital and Data Office and Cabinet Office logos