The Government Digital Service (GDS) is set to exist until at least 2018, despite concerns about its future after 2015’s General Election.
At last week’s Whitehall Media CGBT event, government CTO (chief technology officer) Liam Maxwell was asked by an audience member what GDS would look like in five years’ time - if it was still around.
Maxwell claimed that GDS “wasn’t going anywhere” and it has since been confirmed that his contract as CTO has been extended until at least 2018.
“Together we are going to work for and with Departments to deliver the modern and user-focused technology we need and I’m really happy to sign up for the next stage of this exciting journey to build a digital government based on user needs,” he claimed.
According Maxwell’s speech at the London event, GDS will “continue to deliver clearer, simpler, faster services” that are developed “for [users], with [users] and by [users].”
However, he was quick to claim that live does not mean a service appears online and its state is set in stone – instead, feedback is always being listened to and acted upon.
“Live doesn’t mean we’ve provided and suddenly we’re live and it never changes again. Live means we turn the other stuff that we were doing off and we now have something that’s running, that’s working,” said the CTO.
Maxwell also told delegates at CGBT that the Agile approach is “one of the most successful ways of delivering a new service.”
“The use of open standards and the use of Agile methodology means that in the first stage we can always change things,” he claimed.
To support this argument, he used the example of the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its new digital service to implement the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in England.
“This is one of the most amazing stories of how a relevant IT programme can work,” claimed Maxwell, adding that technology has completely transformed the way this service works as it brings together systems and processes previously managed by four different organisations.
The CTO claims GDS has merely supported government in its transformation and the Departments themselves must be praised for the success so far.
“It’s people in the Department who are responsible for building the service and GDS fills the gaps,” Maxwell claimed.