CHALLENGE /// Create a model for decentralisation of Government as a Platform

OUTCOME /// Interventions to meet outcomes of the 2017-2020 Government Transformation Strategy  


At the Sprint 15 conference in February 2015, the 'Government as a Platform' model was announced with a stated goal of developing common digital service components for use by all government departments and the wider public sector. Delivering against that vision has been the sole work to date of the Government Digital Service (GDS) delivering first with GOV.UK, then Verify, and since with PAY, NOTIFY and PaaS (Platform as a Service). But a question is yet to be answered as to whether any government department other than GDS within the Cabinet Office can operate these common components, and similarly whether there was a role for the marketplace to play in operating these common components. This case study talks about some recent work we’ve done towards answering this.

Working alongside an experienced GDS team that's doing the hard work on the existing GaaP initiatives we set about creating a model of how we can share reusable digital things between services. This work gave clear criteria for what good reuse looks like, how it plays alongside existing guidance in the Digital Service Standard and the Technology Code of Practice, and establishes a common vocabulary for reuse. Importantly we learnt that the vision of GaaP sits in the much wider context of digital reuse across government. That both the adoption of GaaP components created by GDS and the potential for non-GDS creation and operation of these components is affected by these wider activities and the government culture of reuse, or lack of it.

Against this backdrop we identified a number of interventions are now needed before GaaP can become decentralised, they are:

i) actively drive a culture of reuse through cross-government communities and networks,

ii) employ proportionate governance for different forms of reuse from light collective governance to formal central control,

iii) provide appropriate use of incentives to establish and reward reuse behaviours,

iv) evolve towards the marketplace driving progressive commoditisation, and

v) mature towards consistent experiences both for end users of services that employ service components and for client service teams as they adopt reusable components.

These changes are needed if government is to realise the outcomes targeted in the recent 2017-2020 Government Transformation Strategy of shared platforms, components and reusable business capabilities. It recognises that many government departments are keen to contribute common components and that industry wants to play a part too. This work contributes towards a tangible investment in reuse across government that when matured could facilitate an evolution in how government services are delivered and in how government works.

CLIENT /// Government Digital Service (GDS), Cabinet Office

DISCIPLINES /// Service Management, Product Management, Digital Strategy, Digital & Data Standards