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GDS struggles under constricting budget allowance, publishes risks to business plan

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has published its April 2014-March 2015 business plan alongside concerns that its budget is too small.

“We have insufficient funding, which could mean we’re unable to hire the people with the skills we need,” claims the document.

“We will address this by reviewing the business plan and budget quarterly so that the GDS Operations Board can take action if required,” it adds.

The plan also claims that the Department has difficulty hiring and keeping skilled staff, but is making plans to attract and keep the best digital and technology talent.

Read more: GDS approves Whitehall e-recruitment system

GDS says that its total budget for FY 2014/15 is £58.3m – it explains £12.6m comes from HM Treasury and £2.1m was transferred when the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) joined the organisation.

A further £17.5m of funding was agreed with the Reserve at Supplementary Estimates to finance digital exemplar services and a £10m has been agreed for the National Cyber Security Fund.

A table that appears in the business plan shows that GDS intends to spend this budget on GOV.UK, the transformation programme, performance and delivery and OCTO to name a few areas.

The GDS plan reveals that in the coming months, priority will be placed on ensuring the 25 exemplar services are live by March next year.

The Department is aiming to have 75 per cent of agency and arm’s length body websites, including HMRC, on GOV.UK by the end of this month and 100 per cent by December.

Read more: GDS outlines new digital commercial programme strategy

G-Cloud, the Digital Services Framework and the new Digital Marketplace also feature high on the priority list, along with the completion of the new approach to Cloudstore security.

Despite these ambitious goals, GDS says that the business plan may be put at risk by issues such as identity assurance not being ready for public beta or the demand for custom development regarding performance platforms may be too much.

GDS is also concerned that it may be unable to meet savings targets put in place by the Cabinet Office and Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) business plan.

To combat this possibility, the Department says it will be reviewing the document to monitor benefits and savings, raising any issues with the GDS Operations Board.

It will also be assessing development plans for transformation projects are identified in individual Departments’ digital strategies, as well as setting baseline budgets at the beginning of each programme.