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Government needs an open partnership to digitise

Six in 10 company directors felt digital services run by the public sector were inferior to those created by the private sector

UK government should use the private sector to help implement digital services, says report
UK government should use the private sector to help implement digital services, says report

UK government must embrace the best of private sector innovation if it is to deliver the high-quality digital services that citizens expect, new research warns.


The report from the Institute of Directors (IoD), supported by digital transformation firm Atos, reveals that three fifths of company directors thought digital services run by the public sector were inferior to those created by the private sector, such as online banking.


Of nearly 1,000 business leaders surveyed, the majority thought the government should focus on the services it wants to deliver rather than developing products itself, and improve the way it works with technology companies, large and small.


The IoD points out the government has previously outlined in its Industrial Strategy that it is keen to use procurement as a means to boost UK productivity, and the report argues digital services is one area ripe for improvement in 2018 through deeper partnership with the private sector.


More than half of respondents did, however, report that they had noticed a positive impact since the launch of the Government Digital Service (GDS) in 2011. GDS was responsible for the creation of, a single point of access for government information and services, which IoD members said had shown some success in providing services that were easier to use.


Overall however, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of company directors expressed scepticism about the public sector’s ability to take advantage of technological advances including automation, while three fifths also think better use of data by the public sector could reduce the time they spend complying with regulations, and half (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.


“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,” said Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors.


“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.”


“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,” added Kulveer Ranger, vice president, strategy and communications, Atos UK & Ireland.


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