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Government Digital Services moves to Google Apps

Government Digital Services moves to Google Apps

Is it spearheading a pan-government plan?

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) has moved into Google Apps, outgoing government CIO Joe Harley has revealed.

The team, which sits within the Cabinet Office, is responsible for – and will potentially spearhead – the transformation of government digital services.

Harley listed the move as one of the IT-related achievements the government had made so far, at ‘The Crown and Suppliers: A New Way of Working’ conference in London this week.

Other achievements included saving £300 million in 2010/2011 by reducing IT spend or stopping spend on low-value IT projects, and using agile tools to deliver the new Universal Credit benefits system.

Meanwhile, Mike Bracken, digital director who heads up the GDS, said the government will start to rationalise its digital estate further next year.

“We must think of our government [digital] estate as one entity,” he said.

Early next year will also see the public beta of Alpha.gov.uk, an experimental prototype website that Martha Lane Fox launched earlier this year to show how people can engage with government services online.

The new, single government domain, once live, will also showcase how government will work digitally in the future.

While ‘Alpha’ took six months to deliver, ‘Beta’ will take five months, and the single domain will be delivered by “weekly” and then “daily” iterations, Bracken said.

The government is drawing from the example of photo-storing website Flickr, which does 12 iterations to the site a day.

“That’s what we should aspire to,” Bracken said.

Other cost-cutting initiatives Harley announced included the creation of an ICT asset register within government, which departments have to check against first, before developing anything.

The government is also making APIs available to allow third parties to develop software and services to address public sector challenges.

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