Open partnership has to digitise government services

A new report from the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that the government must embrace the best of private sector innovation if it is to deliver the high quality digital services that the public expects.

The government said it is keen to use procurement to raise the UK’s productivity, and the report, supported by Atos, argues digital services is one area for improvement.

Six in 10 company directors surveyed by the IoD thought digital services run by the public sector were inferior to those created by the private sector, such as online banking.

A majority of IoD members through the government should focus on the services it wants to deliver rather than developing products itself in order to make improvements, and improve the way it works with technology companies - large and small.

Over half of business leaders did, however, report they had noticed a positive impact since the launch of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in 2011.

Other key findings of the report include: new survey of nearly 1,000 business leaders shows 77 per cent think the public sector is poorly equipped to take advantage of changes due to technological advances and automation; 61 per cent think government digital services are worse than those run by the private sector; 60 per cent say the government does not make good enough use of private sector enterprise; and 51 per cent say a new model is needed for engagement with SMEs and larger technology partners.

Overall, more than three quarters of company directors expressed scepticism about the public sector’s ability to take advantage of technological advances including automation, while six in 10 also think better use of data by the public sector could reduce the time they spend complying with regulations, and 49 per cent say it could make them more productive.

The report calls for the government to open itself up to digital transformation, viewing the private sector as an essential partner, and creating an environment that allows for innovation.

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “While there has been some improvement in recent years, business leaders still feel the public sector is lagging well behind when compared against the innovation we’ve seen from companies. Our members are both providers and users of government digital services. They are very keen that the government make better use of the knowledge and experience that exists in businesses of all sizes.

“The gains could be not only better and more cost-efficient services, but also reduced time wasted on form-filling for companies. Raising the UK’s productivity is the driving force behind the government’s economic policy, so they should be looking for opportunities to work with the private sector to improve their digital offering. This could make life easier for small firms in particular, freeing up time for our members to spend improving their businesses.”

Kulveer Ranger, vice president, strategy and communications, Atos UK & Ireland, said: “Government does not need to lead the way but should demonstrate that it can both identify and deliver the innovation that digital transformation can provide and which can lead to increased productivity. It can be said to have tried by establishing Government Digital Services, however, momentum appears to have slowed.

“By being open to a new partnership paradigm, government – and more importantly, government procurement – has the opportunity to harness greater innovation for the benefit of the citizen, and deliver improved productivity and value for the taxpayer.”

Please register to comment on this article