This week at GDS
We’re just back from an all-staff meeting, which was a great chance to see what teams throughout GDS have been up to over the last few weeks. We’ve also had meetings with the National Audit Office and the Efficiency and Reform Board. We welcomed visitors from the Croatian Government and have been preparing for the move of the Cabinet Office website over to GOV.UK.
What have you been up to this week?
We’ve just come back from our all staff event, a thing that is fresh in the mind. Over 200 of us saw all the great things that are going on around GDS. It was great because you see the breadth of all the stuff that is going on. We had everyone up on stage presenting in a sort of Ignite-style. One of the biggest challenges this year will be that our teams are distributed. They will be in different places on different platforms and systems. So it is great to get everyone in a room once a month, for a morning, and go through it. It was a really interesting and exciting event, and I look forward to it next month.
Outside of that this week, we’ve done a couple of key presentations. Yesterday I saw the National Audit Office, Sally Howes and the team there. They are tremendously important, not just because they keep us all honest, but because the auditing regimes and the financial management regimes they have bake in the way stuff should be done. It is crucial that we work closely with them so they represent the digital agenda as well. It was great to see over 100 of their staff, and talk about how we can do things differently in IT generally, and digital services, specifically.
I also had the pleasure of presenting at the Efficiency and Reform Board, to Sir Peter Gershwin and Chris Haskins, amongst others. I had the opportunity to walk them through the identity programme and our work so far. It was great to see the enthusiasm and the interest and also the context, because many of that group have been around various ID schemes and understand some of the problems that government has had in the past. It was great to get their steer as well. We did that in Cabinet Office again, yesterday.
I guess, the most important thing we did this week in terms of the longer term stuff is, we kicked off our Exemplars. Now, remember, just before Christmas, we announced 23 Exemplar programmes in eight departments, right across the country. We are doing a bunch of work here to understand what good looks like, and how the feasibility analysis work. We will come up with change plans and business plans with departments. To kick that programme off and formally get it going was a real milestone. We have got 400 days, or just under now, to get some stuff delivered. So to get it going here was a big win.
We have been working with other people as well, this week, who have we had in?
We always have interesting people in. The first bunch in this week were the Croatians. We had Thomaalav Korman and his colleagues from the Ministry of Administration, which is the equivalent of the Cabinet Office there. It was tremendous fun seeing what they are doing, and I think they’re really enthusiastic about what we are doing here. We should say thanks to Chris Freeman, from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who helped set that up. It is great to see another country come into GDS and make a good connection there.
What are you looking forward to next week?
I think we’re all looking forward, here, to the next major migration onto GOV.UK, because it’s the turn of the Cabinet Office. That is a big win for us; it validates all the things that we have been trying to do, but also it means we know what it is like being, if you like, the client of our work.
Is there anything outside of government that has caught your eye?
Yes. A farming community in Lancashire digging up fields to lay their own broadband network. Fantastic stuff. It shows a powerful form of social enterprise and also shows that you don’t have to wait for Tel. Co.’s to come to your area to get yourself broadband. I was listening to a woman who has got 90MB broadband to her home as a result. So, it is a terrific example of what you can do and really, the power of connected economy. People that have been on dial up for such a long time have been waiting for broadband, and now they’re actually owning and operating their own network themselves and will create a few support jobs at the same time.