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Will the UK government ever fulfil its digital by default plans?

A tri-monthly progress report on the Government Digital Strategy has revealed that the original target for all exemplar services to go “live” may not be met.

According to Whitehall’s transformation website, it originally intended for the 25 largest transactional services in government to meet the digital by default standard by April 2014 and completed by March 2015.

However Mike Bracken, executive director of the Government Digital Service (GDS) has revealed that he expects 20 exemplars will be in either “public beta” or live by March 2015.

Despite this, the progress report implies that strong, steady progress is being made towards meeting the objectives outlined in the Digital Strategy.

“We’ve got a lot of work still to do. Everything can’t change overnight, but our organisation attitude and mindset is starting to change fundamentally, which makes a huge difference to what is possible,” claimed Bracken.

Progress So Far

Although the GDS report suggests the original target for live exemplar services will not be met, the beginning of October saw seven live services, 15 in beta and just three in the “alpha” stage.

The Department also claims to have transferred 61 more agency and arm’s length body (ALB) websites to the GOV.UK platform.

Besides this, GDS says it ran Sprint Beta to give digital teams opportunities to share what they have learnt while working on projects across government and held training for over 300 lead and content editors on user needs, web writing and GOV.UK style and publisher tools.

The opening of the new HMRC digital delivery centre in Newcastle and the launch of the Digital Marketplace are also listed among digital achievements in the report.

Developments Expected For Rest Of Year

Going forward, GDS expects another six exemplar services to go live between October and December, leaving 20 exemplars available for the public to use in either live or public beta status.

It also expects to finish moving HMRC and remaining ALB websites to GOV.UK and move GOV.UK Verify from private to public beta.

Performance data about how well GOV.UK is meeting user needs and open document formats guidance will be published, as well as a third set of open standards for government.

“We’re shaping government services around real user needs, based on data rather than assumptions,” claimed Bracken.

“We’ve now got a policy lab working on digital issues, we’re pulling together a data science team and we’ve established a state-of-the-art user research lab.

“We getting more digital talent into the government supply chain by making it easier for a wider range of businesses to work with us,” he added.