Labour's Digital Government Review

+Calls for Evidence - Overview

During Labour's Digital Government Review we tested a number of themed propositions via calls for evidence. Each of these propositions built on the areas in the initial terms of reference; provided an initial starting point for challenge and debate; and was accompanied by some key questions for consideration.

The propositions are listed below, each call for evidenced included an email address and online survey form for submissions.

This review is, of necessity, covering a wide scope and we recognise that not every individual or organisation will have either the time or the inclination to consider each proposition or question. We asked people to to focus on propositions and questions that are most of interest to them; their community; or the organisation that they represented; and to send us in their best ideas, or thoughts on the biggest challenges, that they wanted tthe review to consider.

We also asked people to Tell Us Your Story of using public services, or of helping someone else to use them. That survey is now closed.

  • Access and Skills - Citizens should have access, and the skills they need, to use government digital services.
  • Information Rights - Citizens should have a right to ensure that information about them held by government is proportionate, fair and accurate; the right to be informed of the uses to which that information is put; and the right to 'opt out'. Citizens should also have a right to have disproportionate, unfair and inaccurate information about them either corrected or taken down.
  • Supporting Communities - Communities should be encouraged to develop support networks to help one another to develop skills, digital literacy and to use government digital services. NB: no call for evidence went out for this proposition as the responses to other propositions were felt to cover the theme in sufficient detail.
  • Citizen Needs First - The design and production of government digital services should put the interests, abilities and needs of citizens first.
  • People-Powered - The development of government digital services will follow a co-production model and be governed by a set of principles designed to ensure that citizen’s interests are respected and that services are people-powered.
  • Continuous Innovation - Embedding a culture of continuous innovation in how government digital services are delivered to citizens offers the potential to dramatically improve the range and quality of services on offer, while also enabling significant reductions in the cost of providing services.
  • Digital Framework - A framework for Digital Government should provide a direction to transform costly legacy applications; unite individual initiatives to develop government digital services making it easier for citizens to discover and use the services they need, while streamlining the delivery of government digital services, maximising re-use and cutting costs to support the zero-based spending review.
  • Digital Procurement - Procurement for government digital services needs to change to support value for money and innovation through a healthy competitive market that enables new suppliers to enter the public sector market whilst reducing costs and aligning with Government’s wider procurement policies.
  • Skills and Culture - The move towards Digital Government requires a culture change and skills refresh at all layers of government.

Across all of these propositions we were also interested in the ethical questions being raised by new digital services.

We stated that we were keen to be able to openly publish submissions that we received and asked submitters to confirm their preference. The cut-off date was originally May 30th but was extended to Thursday 12th June.

+Submissions

Public submissions that were received are below. Some submissions were also received where confidentiality was requested. Those requests have been respected.

Accenture - Submission

Adobe - Submission

Alexia Miller - Submission

ARM - Submission

Beyond Jobs - Submission

Big Innovation Centre - Submission

Bramble - Submission

Carnegie UK Trust - Submission

Communications Consumer Panel - Submission

Communication Workers Union - Submission

Dave Levy - Submission

Deloitte - Submission

DMoss Esq - Multiple External Blogs

Derek Wyatt FRSA - Submission

Design Council - Submission

EMC - Submission

FIPR - Submission

Foden Grealy - Link To Blog

Harry Holkham - Submission

HISL - Submission 1 - Submission 2

Ian Dowson - Submission

ICAEW - Submission - Covering Letter

Information Now - Submission

Jerry Fishenden - Blog 1 - Blog 2 - Blog 3 - Blog 4 - Blog 5

Joe Macleod - Submission

Jon Crowcroft - PAWS Website - Nymote Website

LITRG - Submission

Mark Thompson - Article

MarketDojo - Blog 1 - Blog 2 - Blog 3

Med Confidential - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6

Memset - Submission

Microsoft - Submission

Mike Martin - Submission

Mobile Broadband Group - Submission

Multiple (NIITE)- Submission

Mydex CIC - Submission - Additional Comments

Newcastle City Council - Submission - Digital Inclusion Policy - Policy Cabinet Report - Open Data Statement

Netopia - Submission

NLGN - Submission

Added 17 July - Nuance - Submission

PCS - Submission

Policy Exchange - Web Version - PDF Version

Post Office - Submission

Procession - Submission

Prospect - Submission - Annex 1 - Annex 2 - Annex 3

Reform - Blog

Richard Copley - Submission

Royal Academy of Engineering - Submission

Royal Statistical Society - Submission

Shaping Cloud - Submission

Skyscape - Submission

Splunk - Blog

talkaboutlocal - Blog

Talk Talk - Submission

Telefonica - Submission

theparentzone - Submission

Three - Submission

Tinder Foundation - Submission

Vodafone - Submission

Weber Shandwick - Blog

World Economic Forum - Link 1 - Link 2 - Link 3

Alternatively click here to download all public submissions in a single .zip file. This .zip file does not contain linked blogposts or copies of external websites.

In addition to the formal submissions a large number of events and meetings were held; and many other thoughts, reports, blogs and articles were bought to our attention, read and analysed during the review's synthesis. We thank everyone for their input.

If you have any questions related to the submissions please contact us on team@digitalgovernmentreview.org.uk

+Definitions

  • Digital Service : The majority of public services are now delivered or supported by digital technology. Our definition of a digital service includes all services where digital technology plays a key role in delivery. For example: a citizen searching for assistance with finding work or requesting a driving licence and parking permit; a parent researching local school choices; a company looking to understand government export policy; or a company or individual using an API containing Government open data.
  • Citizen : We recognise that citizens can take on multiple roles, for example a member of society; a member of a community group; a consumer of government’s public services; or a worker in the public or private sectors.
  • Government : Includes UK central government departments, local government organisations, non-departmental bodies or any other organisation contracted to deliver public services.
  • Co-production model (or people-powered): Co-production means shaping digital services to involve the citizen in both design and delivery It is clear that people who use services have assets which can help to improve those services, rather than simply needs which must be met. We also call this model people-powered.

+Call for Evidence - Access and Skills

Proposition: Citizens should have access, and the skills they need, to use government digital services.

Currently, 9.8 million adults in the UK lack the basic online skills needed to email, search and share information safely online (source). To enable all citizens to benefit from new digital services we need to address both this issue and the issue of broadband access.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • How should government focus on improving the quality and accessibility of digital services that help the most disadavantaged in society? And how should government ensure that the most disadvantaged receive the benefits that digital can bring?
  • Should every digital public service meet an agreed accessibility and inclusion standard? What should this standard be and how should it be enforced?
  • What would be the most cost effective way to help the 9.8 million million adults who currently lack the basic online skills to use these services?
  • Should government provide financial assistance to pay for an Internet access device and broadband connectivity for the most vulnerable in society? For example should those aged 75 and over with low incomes have access to a ‘Web Help Scheme’ similar to the support made available during Digital TV switchover?
  • Should Government provide additional funding for the UK’s social institutions (for example the Post Office and Public Libraries) to provide supported face to face access to government digital services and free informal digital literacy support in every community?
  • Should large digital economy companies operating in the UK take more responsibility to ensure equality of access to online services? What more could government do to encourage them to accept this responsibility?
  • Are there any specific government services where face-to-face access for the most vulnerable in society should be protected? What are these services and for how long should these services be protected?
  • What role should government play in ensuring that citizens and communities have access to services such as high speed broadband or free Wi-Fi networks?
  • How can government better align the roadmap for providing online services with the provision of digital inclusion?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Information Rights

Proposition: Citizens should have a right to ensure that information about them held by government is proportionate, fair and accurate; the right to be informed of the uses to which that information is put; and the right to 'opt out'. Citizens should also have a right to have disproportionate, unfair and inaccurate information about them either corrected or taken down.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • How do we cost-effectively allow citizens to view and, where appropriate, correct information held about them by government? Should it be a single, secure digital service or some other model? What would be a reasonable time duration to set for a new model to be put in place?
  • How would this right be affected where individuals hold parental or other forms of legal responsibility? Are there other situations where the right over one citizen’s information should be extended to another individual?
  • Is informing a citizen of the uses to which information is put sufficient or is explicit, informed consent necessary? If explicit, informed consent is necessary then what level of information is required and under what circumstances, such as secondary uses of data, does prior consent change? How can we expect informed consent to evolve given known issues about digital and/or data literacy?
  • How would this right vary where information has been aggregated, anonymised or otherwise altered before being opened, shared, or otherwise used? How should government ensure that anonymised data is truly anonymised, in fact is it even possible?
  • What mechanisms should government use to communicate the uses to which citizen data is put? And what mechanisms should government use to allow citizens to 'opt out'? How should government address the cost of these mechanisms?
  • How should the level of information and mechanism of communication vary with the use to which citizen data is put? Should the right to 'opt out' vary with the use to which citizen data is put?
  • What time period should reasonably be expected for an information correction or takedown to occur?
  • What governance framework would be appropriate to support and enforce these rights? How do we enforce accountability?
  • What best-practice models for similar rights, accountability and governance frameworks currently exist? What reassurance should government provide citizens about personal information accessed and used by law enforcement? Or by security agencies?
  • Are the current initiatives on open government data and shared government data delivering the expected benefits and operating in accordance with the proposed rights? What could be improved?
  • Does government have any role in promoting secure digital identities and/or personal data stores?
  • Should the same rights laid out in the proposition apply to citizen information stored by the private sector?What role should government have in regulating how the private sector uses citizen's personal data?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Citizen Needs

Proposition: The design and production of government digital services should put the interests, abilities and needs of citizens first.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • Are some current government digital services designed without sufficient concern for citizens’ ability to access and use digital services?
  • Is the design and production of digital services well aligned with the design and production of new policies? If not how can we improve that alignment?
  • What new government digital services could be encouraged that would change the power relationship between citizens and government, and help improve democracy?
  • Is the government failing to meet the demand for some digital services? Perhaps because the demand has not been identified? Or because there has not been objective evaluation and prioritisation based on needs?
  • Is it possible to construct a source of advice for companies, individuals and governments developing digital services so that they can build better digital services with the benefit of an independent, balanced, ethical input?
  • Are some digital services insufficiently tailored to meet the specific demands of particular groups of people?
  • How should we openly and transparently capture ideas and demand for new or enhanced digital services from across all UK citizens?
  • How can the government encourage use of open data? What standards should exist and how should they be enforced?
  • How can we ensure that citizens' requests for new or enhanced digital services are fairly evaluated and prioritised for development?
  • How do we ensure that the design process for new digital services fairly accommodates citizen needs?
  • How should government ensure that public digital services that are designed or produced by citizens incorporate best practice standards?
  • How can government effectively collate examples of best practice people-powered digital services and communicate these across all levels of government?
  • How do we encourage, collate and process citizens' feedback on the ongoing effectiveness of digital services?
  • Can we measure the effectiveness and popularity of government digital services?
  • How do we reassure citizens that the design of digital services puts their interests first and that their input and feedback is valued?

This call for evidence is now closed.

Call for Evidence - People-Powered

Proposition: The development of government digital services will follow a co-production model and be governed by a set of principles designed to ensure that citizen’s interests are respected and that services are people-powered.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • Are there particular types of digital public services that would benefit from a co-production model. For example at central, regional or local level; or particular interest groups or sections of society?
  • Is it possible to construct a source of advice for companies, individuals and governments developing digital services so that they can build better digital services with the benefit of an independent, balanced, ethical input?
  • How can government encourage all sections of society to be involved in demanding, designing and producing digital services with government?
  • How can government empower and incentivise citizens to participate in building and enhancing digital services?
  • What support can government provide to help citizens and communities develop their own digital services as well as those co-produced with government? For example with architecture frameworks, advice and guidance, technical and programming resources, access to open data, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), setting standards or sharing of best practice.
  • Is the Government's App Store an effective way to co-produce digital services? How can government improve the breadth and effectiveness of its App Store?
  • Should government support other organisations; for example charities, third sector or social enterprises; in improving their digital services and ability to collaborate with public sector agencies.
  • Does government have a role in promoting the private sector digital economy? For example by developing and promoting good practises; by making available high quality open data; by promoting open standards; by funding and supporting the development of key emerging skills or technologies?
  • How can government collect feedback from all those involved in co-producing public digital services, so that best practices can be developed and communicated?
  • How can government ensure that there are proper quality controls on co-produced digital services before they are released?
  • What controls are needed to ensure that citizens’ interests are respected for example when shared or personal data are used?
  • How can we measure the extent to which digital public services are people-powered?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Continuous Innovation

Proposition: Embedding a culture of continuous innovation in how government digital services are delivered to citizens offers the potential to dramatically improve the range and quality of services on offer, while also enabling significant reductions in the cost of providing services.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • What best practice examples of digital innovation exist in current goverment organisations? And what best practice examples exist internationally?
  • What areas are proving slow to innovate and provide citizens with improved digital services?
  • In an environment of continuous innovation in digital service delivery what framework would be appropriate to fairly evaluate projects based on the outcomes they could produce for citizens?
  • Which are the public services where there is particular scope for digital transformation and how should they be prioritised?
  • What resources would be needed to design and implement these enhancements to public services?
  • How could government improve the quality and productivity of service delivery through providing guidance, common standards and suitable infrastructure across departments?
  • How could government improve the quality and productivity of service delivery through more sophisticated analysis of information (or 'big data')?
  • What model of continuous innovation is appropriate for the public sector and how do we ensure that this is for the benefit of all citizens?
  • How would you capture and prioritise improvements to ensure that digital services are continuously improving and responsive to changing citizen needs? How can government encourage testing of potential improvements?
  • How can government effectively work with other organisations like universities, technical experts, research bodies and the private sector to spur innovation? Are open data, open standards and open architecture initiatives sufficient or is more required?
  • Which emerging and new innovations in digital technologies may have a transformative impact on how public services are designed and delivered? How should government evaluate and plan for these impacts?
  • Should smart cities or connected councils be enouraged to a greater extent and what is the role of government in these ecosystems?
  • What should citizens expect from Digital Government in 2020?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Digital Framework

Proposition: A framework for Digital Government should provide a direction to transform costly legacy applications; unite individual initiatives to develop government digital services making it easier for citizens to discover and use the services they need, while streamlining the delivery of government digital services, maximising re-use and cutting costs to support the zero-based spending review.

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • How would you define the term "a framework for Digital Government"?
  • What is the current situation? Are there successes due to current frameworks? Are there issues/problems caused by either particular frameworks, or the lack of them?
  • What initiatives are underway, in any layer of government, to define frameworks, architectures and standards?
  • What level of effort should be placed into developing frameworks, architectures and standards? How can the benefits be determined and success measured?
  • What factors should be used to prioritise and sequence development of frameworks? For example, should it be a priority to address areas that are supported by legacy or end-of-life applications to simplify replacement activities? Or should interactions between differing government silos be a priority?
  • What elements should exist within a framework? For example: standards, services, platforms, online presence, applications, information/data, organisational, processes, commercial. How should effort be prioritised across these elements?
  • Is it the role of central government to provide leadership and foster greater harmonisation between framework initiatives? Or would a more local and regional approach to frameworks, architectures and standards provide greater benefits?
  • How do we find the right balance across the different levels of democratic accountability? How do we ensure innovation is still allowed to flourish?
  • How should government best identify and link simultaneous initiatives to maximise benefits to citizens and across all layers of government?
  • How can frameworks support interactions between applications and services delivered by different public sector organisations or suppliers?
  • How can such frameworks assist in the design, development and delivery processes for new public digital services?
  • How can such frameworks place citizen’s needs first and foremost? How can a framework assist citizens in identifying and using public digital services?
  • What role should such frameworks play in the procurement process? Will they improve or hinder the process for either buyers or suppliers?
  • Who are the participants, or stakeholders, in such frameworks? What role can both citizens and potential suppliers, of any size, play in developing such frameworks? How can we involve these different groups in developing frameworks?
  • How open should Digital Government frameworks, architectures and standards be? Should they be openly published? Should they support open collaboration and development? What are the benefits of this openness?
  • How do we ensure that a framework continues to evolve?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Digital Procurement

Proposition: Procurement for government digital services needs to change to support value for money and innovation through a healthy competitive market that enables new suppliers to enter the public sector market whilst reducing costs and aligning with Government’s wider procurement policies

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of a good supplier market? Do we have one now?
  • Are current government frameworks and standards (such as G-Cloud, Contingent Labour One, etcetera) supporting the creation of the desired supplier market across all layers of government?
  • What impact will increased use of co-production (or people-powered services) have on the procurement process and supplier market?
  • What needs to change in the procurement process? What else needs to change in the wider relationship before and during contract delivery?
  • Are government buyers of ICT services ‘intelligent buyers’? Are they well-informed both of the needs that they are buying for and of supplier capabilities and historical performance? If not what needs to change?
  • Are government buyers supported in developing and communicating best practice standards? Or in understanding which best practice standards already exist? If not what needs to change?
  • What benefits are possible from increased government use of small suppliers? What are the benefits for the wider economy?
  • What progress has been made towards the goal of more small suppliers? What mistakes?
  • What barriers exist for small suppliers to become government suppliers? How can they be overcome?
  • What cultural and behavioural norms prevent government having constructive engagement with small suppliers? What is necessary for these to change? What principles should hold sway in the future?
  • Has the use of G-Cloud helped small supplier take-up across all layers of government? If not, why not? Do the current strategy of 'Red Lines' help or hinder small suppliers?
  • Is G-Cloud working as a buyer-supplier market?
  • Does G-Cloud support the creation of innovative new public sector products and services?
  • Is there sufficient stability and clarity of requirements in the roadmaps for the current frameworks and standards?
  • What common standards and processes should there be for all suppliers, regardless of size? What, if anything, should differ by supplier size?
  • What advantages exist in using large suppliers to prime contracts with small suppliers (or independent contractors), for example to share delivery risk? Are such contracts working fairly and creating win-win situations for both government and the multiple links in the supply chain?
  • Are there certain rules that are necessary but which are currently lacking from some supplier contracts? For example to support the ability to switch suppliers at the end of a contract period? To support the use of open standards to increase interoperability? To encourage desired corporate social responsibility standards?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Digital Government Skills and Culture

Proposition: The move towards Digital Government requires a culture change and skills refresh at all layers of government

In assessing this proposition we are particularly interested in hearing thoughts and evidence on the following questions:

  • How would you define the culture of Digital Government? What skills do the employees, organisation, and partners of a Digital Government require? How do those skill requirements vary across the public sector?
  • How would you rate the current situation against those requirements? How do we bring about the necessary culture change and develop new skills across all government organisations?
  • What timescale would be feasible and desirable to undertake this change? Does the central government approach of fostering a culture of generalist skills create a barrier to the required change?
  • What opportunities and/or barriers do the structure of local government or non-departmental public bodies present?
  • What are the barriers to attracting and retaining specialist digital skills in the areas of government that require those skills?
  • What great examples currently exist of where the necessary culture change or skills refresh has been achieved, either in government or in other organisations? What external organisations could support the necessary changes?
  • Should the way government policy is set and implemented change in line with the move to Digital Government?
  • Will deploying effective digital services in the future require a more agile or open approach to policy development?

This call for evidence is now closed.

+Call for Evidence - Ethical Approach to Digital Services

Would we have better digital services in the UK if there was an ethical component in their design? Something other than market forces and the law? Would some deeper thought on the societal consequences of a new service increase uptake and head off problems?  Would government initiatives such as the NHS care.data project and  the resulting furore have benefitted from an independent ethical viewpoint at the design stage, other than the power of a majority?

Too often when controversy erupts it seems that the design of a digital product or services lacks an ethical dimension that would make them socially acceptable.  The design process seems to have been too abstract, driven by market forces in an alien culture, without a clear set of values.  Given the huge power of digital services in society we need to do better than that.

       ' there are reasons to think that the purely abstract approach
         is too detached from other aspects of our humanity,
         particularly from how our moral outlook is not a purely
         rationalist affair, but is rooted in experiences and in
         relationships with people we care about.'
         Jonathan Glover, Ethics and Humanity

Much of Britain's future prosperity will be dependent on us staying in a leading pack of digitally advanced nations.  But is the route to success just developing the most radical services or, in fact being the country that has the highest take up of radical services?  We want a society where we all benefit from technology and technologists can shape services such that they are societally acceptable.

I wonder if it is possible to move beyond the simple, commercial ‘Does it work?’ ‘Is it DPA compliant?’, ‘Does it turn a profit?’ ‘Will it get in an app store?’ and provide help and advice to people who want to look a broader dimensions such as ‘Is it right?’, ‘Is it acceptable in Britain?’ ‘Is it ethical?’, ‘Does it accord with our values?’

There are any number of lawyers who can help you with say the DPA, although people still make dreadful mistakes. But it isn’t clear to me where companies, especially small companies nor indeed governments can turn for independent, balanced advice and guidance on digital services with an ethical underpinning, based on British values that steps outside party politics.

Global competition and regulation in digital services isn’t a race to the bottom, but in fact a journey to find a balance of opportunity and acceptability.  I wrote last year on how regulators and innovators in advanced economies need to understand how to work together.In sectors with a heavy ethical burden there are well established governance systems that bring in an ethical dimension to help technology drive progress, while retaining the confidence of society. For instance, at one extreme the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has to wrestle with the toughest ethical issues as technology advances.  Its members include people with technical, philosophical and experiential skill sets - technical specialists, women who have gone through fertility treatment, a barrister, a journalist, a vicar, a professor of philosophy etc.

There's no analogous broadly based body for people designing digital services to turn to for advice and guidance. Some authors, such as Debora Spars ten years ago suggest that all new technologies go through phases of innovation, commercialisation, creative anarchy and then settle on a self-imposed rule-set.   But I worry that a series of digital services that pose ethical problems in society could cause a popular or political backlash that denies to society the benefits of future services that get caught up in the turbulent wake.

Could it be that there is competitive advantage for nations that have ethical components to their markets and governance systems?  Might such countries be capable of adapting and refining radical new digital services as they design and deploy them so that society benefits, rather than rejecting a raw service through moral or tabloid outrage?  Given the huge power of digital services in society, especially when backed by the law, governments in particular have a moral (although not legal) burden to act ethically in its digital technology policy in a way that transcends party manifestos. But where can a government service designer look for advice in a heavily disputed policy environment in which everyone thinks they are ethical because they have been elected?

I am not proposing for a minute some vast new ethical regulation of digital services with a vicar and a rabbi in every design session and rooms full of ethics committees.  Nor that Peter Singer should advise on Flappy Bird.   In a government career working on the design of many regulatory or policy processes I observe that the best advice on tricky issues often enters a system orthogonally and entirely independently.   I am interested in how people can design better services with ethical input and where they can find that ethical input when they want it.  Is it possible to construct a source of advice for companies, individuals and governments developing digital services so that they can build better digital services with the benefit of an independent, balanced, ethical input?

I should like to discuss this during the course of the Digital Government Review.   I am interested in relevant advice and evidence from a broad range of parties: companies, academics, charities/ngos, religious organisations, government officials (observing due propriety in the UK), politicians, digital experts, people who have been involved in ethical review systems and, importantly, people who can relate a personal experience that has a bearing on these issues.

This call for evidence is now closed.