Welsh government plans ‘GOV.UK’ style publishing platform

The Welsh government is set to audit all existing public sector websites in Wales with a view to eventually moving to a 'GOV.UK' style single publishing platform.

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The Welsh government is considering whether to adopt a single ‘GOV.UK’ style publishing platform, according to its ‘Digital First’ strategy published this week.

The government will carry out an audit of all existing public sector websites in Wales. It will consider the costs and benefits of a single publishing platform using the new .cymru and .wales domain names as the default for the public sector, the strategy said.

The ambitious ‘Digital First’ strategy promised to improve civil servants’ digital skills, develop common platforms, boost the number of citizens and services online and redesign public services ‘end-to-end’.

The document was aimed at public sector leaders and those involved in public service delivery rather than technical staff.

Public sector organisations need to understand the impact of digital on service delivery and policies and services should be designed with a ‘digital first’ mindset, the document said.

Benefits of this approach include better customer satisfaction, cheaper services and more efficient service delivery, it added.

However it warned there are ‘fundamental barriers’ and that not all relevant decisions are under the control of the Welsh government.

The main issues are a need for clear direction and leadership, better access to high-end digital skills, and a commitment from public sector organisations to collaborate, use common standards and procure strategically, the strategy said.

The Welsh government provides more than 700 transactional services at the moment and ‘many’ don’t offer an online option, it explained. Overall take-up of online public services could currently be as low as 18 percent, according to research by the Digital Wales Advisory Network.

Despite the challenges, the strategy claimed some achievements, such as the web-based ‘My Health Online’ service which lets patients book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online, used by 89 percent of GP practices in Wales.

It also highlighted ‘My Local School’, a digital service which provides data such as performance information, staffing and finance data on local schools for parents.

“There is a growing trend of consumer expectation that services, whether they are delivered by the public or private sector, should be available at any time, anywhere and accessible digitally through an increasing range of devices,” said deputy skills and technology minister Julie James.

“There are numerous examples of digital service delivery developing through the efforts of multiple organisations across the public sector in Wales.  I’m very pleased today to announce the publication of Digital First which sets out the Welsh Government’s vision to enable responsive, consistent and excellent public services through transformed digital delivery,” she added.