DVLA to overhaul IT with core 'open service' platform

The government has backed a move by the DVLA in Swansea to migrate to a new "open service" core IT platform to support wider digital services at the driver and vehicle licensing body.

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The government has backed a move by the DVLA in Swansea to migrate to a new "open service" core IT platform to support wider digital services at the driver and vehicle licensing body.

After a report was commissioned on the future operations of the DVLA, the government has accepted all the recommendations.

These include the DVLA moving away from paper-based processes for customers, replacing its core IT platform, and making more use of its high-end printing and scanning facilities by making them widely available to the rest of the public sector. They are currently only at 65 percent capacity.

The aim of the changes is to also hold up the DVLA as a "digital champion", which other government departments can look to as a benchmark.

The 275-strong IT department at the DVLA is currently in the process of planning for a major core IT platform upgrade to support the operational changes.

The report said: "The legacy IT systems are complex and challenging. The organisation is on the cusp of changing its suppliers and the foundations of the management arrangements.

"Changing the IT infrastructure while maintaining critical government services and developing new ones is challenging."

The DVLA introduced electronic vehicle licensing and Driver Licensing Online 10 years ago. The EVL (electronic vehicle license) service is held up as a model among government digital services for its simplicity and ease of use but, despite this, usage remains below 60 percent, said the report.

The report adds: "Electronic vehicle licensing is one among a number of services that lend themselves to digitalisation but, despite early entry into online services, DVLA does not have a clear strategy of digitalisation or a clear understanding of what that means for its services and internal processes."

To deliver an "open services" IT platform, the report says the DVLA should aim for an IT platform that provides the flexibility and agility to support changing customer needs. It should also make product and technology choices which avoid a lock in to a specific platform or vendor offering, allowing it to "reduce mandated ‘technology refresh’ changes".

This will allow increased electronic customer interaction, increase data sharing where it is legally permissible to do so, and allow the DVLA to manage business rules and processes in a more visual way, said the report.

It is envisaged the transition from legacy to new platforms will take time.

"DVLA’s approach to this transition has evolved over the last 18 months. It has moved from a position where it intended to renew the supplier chain from a single main contractor to multiple suppliers and then transform the services, to one where it is intending to change the supply chain and begin transformation at the same time," the report said.

In its planning, the DVLA is being supported by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and a final transformation programme plan and detailed cost benefit analysis is underway.

The core programme to build in house, migrate from legacy systems and operate an open services solution by September 2015 will "provide the foundations for better existing electronic services and a raft of new ones which, up until now, have been too expensive or complex to deliver within the current IT environment".

The delivery of this open services solution will be incremental and there will be no "big bang", says the report: "DVLA needs to understand better its future direction and operating model to make this transformation cost effective with an integrated delivery plan."

Existing data cleansing programmes will be formalised to ensure the open services solution is populated with up to date and accurate legacy data from the start, it adds.

Roads minister Stephen Hammond said: "These changes will mean drivers will find it easier to access more services online rather than filling out paper forms or spending valuable time on the phone.

"The review found that not every customer has the same needs and the changes will reflect this, for example by providing simpler bulk transactions for key customers such as the motor trade, fleet operators and hire companies."

Major IT outsourcing contracts held by suppliers at the DVLA include those with IBM, Capita, Fujitsu and Gemalto.

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