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First phase of public service transformation underway

Plans for 'radical change' laid out till 2011

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The Cabinet Office has published its Transformational Government implementation plan, outlining a range of targets for July 2007.

Among its priorities are for government departments to plan for more data sharing, the creation of a UK geographical information system strategy, and the incorporation of service transformation into departmental comprehensive spending reviews.

The plan, published on 29 March, also outlines phases of work that span to the end of 2011 and beyond. But it provides most detail for phase one, which runs until the middle of next year, breaking down the plans into streams for customer focus, shared services and professional focus.

For the customer focus stream it notes that the Service Transformation Board (STB) and Service Design Authority have already been created, and the first two customer group directors appointed to coordinate cross-agency working for older people and farmers. The latter's activities will be reviewed and three further appointments will be made by November this year.

The same deadline has been set for the STB to act as a clearing house for intitiatives, and for an agreement on an overall channel architecture and plans for reducing the number of government websites. These will feed into the departmental spending reviews by July of next year.

In the shared services stream, a number of measures are meant to be in place by November:

  • a roadmap for a common infrastructure;
  • implementation plans for sharing human resources, finance and corporate services in nine sectors of government;
  • guidance on security policy;
  • identity management frameworks;
  • interoperability for secure email to encourage inter-agency working;
  • a reference model for standard enterprise architecture;
  • an agreement on interface standards;
  • a standard technical architecture for data sharing.

Looking to next year, the priorities for this stream are that departments incorporate the findings of the Cabinet committee on data sharing into their planning and service delivery, and the publication of the UK geographical information systems strategy.

This year's plans for the professional focus stream include the adding of innovation skills to the competency frameworks for IT professionals and civil servants, a standard business model for innovation development, and the creation of an innovation database. By July of next year these should lead to departments sharing research, ideas and information more widely, and a more systemic approach to innovation.

Looking to the period between 2007 and 2011, the plan emphasises the desire to build up the shared services culture and tailor public services around people and businesses. The Cabinet Office also expects finance and service benefits, and wants to see a new culture reflecting the changes embedded in government.

It also talks of further radical change beyond 2011, in which the boundaries between the different areas of government would become less apparent to people and businesses. This would involve a much wider use of technology in which people serve themselves and policy makers use it in service design.

Cabinet Office minister Jim Murphy said: "We gave an undertaking when we launched the strategy last autumn to publish this implementation plan by April. In doing so we have reached another important milestone that shows how our ambitious public service transformation programme is not only on track but making good progress.

"We have already appointed our first customer group directors. For example, the chief executive of the Pensions Service is leading a series of cross-cutting initiatives to address services for older people. Pilot workshops for the IT Academy have been run, providing real development opportunities for IT professionals.

"There is clearly much to do, as the plan shows, but we are laying the foundations for radical change which will ultimately benefit our customers."

The Transformational Government strategy was launched in November 2005, and an annual report will be published in November 2006. The Chief Information Officer Council and Service Transformation Board have responsibility for taking the strategy forward on a day to day basis.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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