No sweeping changes, but GDS aims to simplify the road to government digital transformation
GDS (Government Digital Service) has turned its attention to legacy systems and how old IT will mix with the digital systems GDS wants to spread across Whitehall.
In its revised Technology Code of Practice, GDS drew attention the the need to address the swathes of legacy IT across central government, and figure out how to work with it rather than simply pull out older systems and replace them with digital services.
To achieve this, the tweaked code of practice outlines GDS’ goal of aiming to be clearer on what should be ‘standard’ IT across government and how best digital technology practices should be defined and carried out, and provide examples of implementation of new technology with older systems.
“One important lesson is to consider legacy systems. We often have to buy and build technology in the context of these legacy systems, so while solving each unique issue isn’t practical the guidance will aim to support the main challenges teams face,” Jonathan Middleton, a senior policy adviser at GDS.
“We don’t have a monopoly on good practice, so we’ll be working with departments and organisations to look for good implementations of technology that follow our principles.”
At the same time the previous £100,000 limit GDS imposed for digital projects is due to be scrapped, with GDS committing to helping government department on a case-by-case basis rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Other than addressing the topic of legacy IT, nothing much has changed in the code of practice, though it has been simplified to 14 points as opposed to 21, all with the goal of making things more clear for departments undertaking digital transformation projects.
GDS also poulticed that the code of practice will keep evolving as it takes a more flexible and agile approach to define how central government should pursue the mantra of ‘digital by default’.
“The basis of the principles aren’t changing, and we’re still committed to standards that help government buy and build great technology. What we expect will change is the structure of the document as we work on providing greater clarity and more guidance and support for departments,” said Middleton.
Give GDS suffered an alarming loss of senior staff over the past two years, so having a clearer approach on the use of technology in government could allay some fears that GDS is not enjoying the success it would like with government digital transformation.