Report outlines action needed to main government’s digital transformation

A new report by the National Audit Office has addressed the issues faced by the government in its digital transformation and outlined the requirements needed to address them. 

Covering the Central Digital and Data Office’s roadmap, titled ‘Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data’, which was created to address underlying issues, the NAO report said that whilst good foundations had been laid it was unclear if the roadmap’s aims will be achieved.

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The report says that alongside difficulties in acquiring digital skills and expertise within departmental teams: ‘CDDO’s small budget and headcount are already affecting the intended reforms to government central functions’ treatment of digital programmes.’ 

This difficulty in hiring those with the necessary skills is highlighted by the figure that 37% of government digital, data and technology recruitment efforts are unsuccessful whilst there’s been a 7% increase in vacancies for jobs of that type up to 4,100 in October of last year. Additionally, only 4% of civil servants are digital professionals, far lower than the industry average of between 8% and 12%. 

Subsequently, many business leaders were reported to be lacking the expertise required to lead the civil service in the ‘digital age’ with the report concluding that central government support and the ‘continued goodwill’ of senior departmental business leaders is needed to ‘maintain momentum’ on the CDDO’s roadmap. 

A conclusion in the report said: ‘Without these, the Roadmap will peter out as its predecessors have done and government is unlikely to address the systemic issues and achieve the efficiencies the Roadmap has identified.’ 

Following on from the conclusions made by the auditors, the report outlines five recommendations for the CDDO and four recommendations for departments themselves. Recommendations to the CDDO include that it should work with the treasury to manage the balance of funding and resources within spending requirements and continue to push for centralised reform to improve policy around digital change. 

Departments were advised that they should be appointing ‘at least one non-executive director with digital, data and technology expertise’ alongside ensuring that their highest level decision-making board contains at least one digital leader, and creating a process to ensure that inefficient legacy foundations were not used as the base for new services. 

You can read the full report by the NAO on their website here, or a summarised version here. 

Many government departments have focussed on modernisation of their systems in recent years, including transferring legacy operations to cloud based platforms, with the DVLA recently signing a contract to continue its transformation.

Photo by Myriam Jessier


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