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, Central Digital and Data Office, talks about how the strategy has been created and the impact it will have.

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.

Mission Two: One Login for Government

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

Mission Three: Better data to power decision making

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

Mission Four: Efficient, secure and sustainable technology

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

Mission Five: Digital skills at scale

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

Mission Six: A system that unlocks digital transformation

Sponsored by Cat Little, Director General, Public Spending at HM Treasury and Head of the Government Finance Function.

How the strategy will improve government services and efficiency

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.

Read about some examples of public services that have already been improved or are being improved:

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.

What the strategy means for you if you work in the Civil Service

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

One of the six missions in the strategy is to build digital skills at scale.

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.

Senior civil servants need to be equipped with the digital skills and knowledge to tackle challenges and lead teams and projects.

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

How to find out more

There are lots of ways for you to get involved in building your digital and data skills if you are an existing civil servant:


There are already great examples of how people and teams across government are building and using their digital skills.

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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