Government Digital Service
This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (August 2016)
The Government Digital Service is a unit of the Government of the United Kingdom's Cabinet Office tasked with transforming the provision of online public services. It was formed in April 2011 to implement the 'Digital by Default' strategy proposed by a report produced for the Cabinet Office in 2010 called 'Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution'. It is overseen by the Public Expenditure Executive (Efficiency & Reform). GDS is primarily based in the Whitechapel Building, London. Its Director General is Kevin Cunnington.
On 20 July 2010, Directgov, the citizen services website, was moved to the Cabinet Office from the Department for Work and Pensions. From 1 April 2011 Directgov became part of the Government Digital Service, along with the BusinessLink website aimed at business users. On 13 September 2012, through a notice on the Directgov homepage, it was announced that the GOV.UK project, built by the Government Digital Service, would replace Directgov as the primary citizen website of the UK Government on 17 October 2012, after which both Directgov and BusinessLink would close.
'Digital by Default' strategyEdit
The strategy was proposed in a report called 'Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution' prepared by Martha Lane Fox, the founder of lastminute.com. In an interview, Francis Maude, minister with responsibility for GDS has spoken about "powerful oligopolies" and the reliance on a single supplier as a cause of high-profile failures in public sector IT, such as NHS Connecting for Health. GDS is intended to "drive service delivery to digital across government and provide support, advice and technical expertise for departments as they develop new digital delivery models". This strategy is focussed on the application of Agile software development and Lean software development methodologies, supplied primarily via small and medium enterprises rather than large suppliers.
GDS has a 'Digital Advisory Board' consisting of high-profile external experts, which meets bi-annually and advises the GDS on strategy.
Government as a platformEdit
GDS has since mid 2013 promoted the concept of government as a platform, an idea first set out by Tim O'Reilly in 2009 in an article in Forbes. Government as a Platform introduces "a new vision for digital government; a common core infrastructure of shared digital systems, technology and processes on which it’s easy to build brilliant, user-centric government services".
In 2011, GDS was given responsibility for setting cross-government standards for identity assurance, with the authority to approve, commission and accredit the identity component of any central government public service. GDS then designed and is building GOV.UK Verify. GOV.UK Verify is the way to prove who you are online, giving safer access to government services like filing your tax or checking the information on your driving licence. GOV.UK Verify allows you to choose from a list of companies certified to verify your identity to government. These companies have to meet published standards for identity assurance.
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) conducted a review of Verify in July 2018, and found Whitehall departments were reluctant to continue funding the project. A subsequent report by the IPA recommended that the Gov.uk Verify identity assurance programme should be terminated.
- Digital Advisory Board to support Government Digital Service wired Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2012
- New minister pays a visit to GDS’s new HQ GOV.UK Retrieved 28 June 2017
- New head of GDS announced GOV.UK. Retrieved 1 August 2016
- Executive Director of Digital in the Cabinet Office Mike Bracken. Retrieved 20 May 2011
- Maude sets out 'digital by default', single-platform vision for UK government Computing Incisive Media UK Retrieved 12 June 2012
- The U.K.'s Digital Plan to Innovate Government The Wall Street Journal Retrieved 19 September 2012, 5:41 pm. ET
- Saul Klein. "Government Digital Service: the best startup in Europe we can't invest in". 15 November 2013.
- "GDS mission – the next phase | Government Digital Service". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- GDS Service Design Manual: Government as a Platform
- Gov 2.0: The Promise Of Innovation
- GDS blog: Government as a Platform: the next phase of digital transformation
-  GOV.UK Verify homepage
-  Identity assurance: enabling trusted transactions
- "Government projects watchdog recommends terminating Gov.uk Verify identity project". ComputerWeekly.com. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
- Benjamin, Katherine; Potts, Henry WW (2018). "Digital transformation in government: Lessons for digital health?". Digital Health. 4: 205520761875916. doi:10.1177/2055207618759168.
- "Digital Government inquiry launched - News from Parliament". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "'GDS's future mission needs clarifying'". PublicTechnology.net. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.