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“Uncoordinated and fragmented”: government innovation comes under fire in official review

The Government Digital Service has pledged to draw up the first official innovation strategy for UK public services, after a review branded government tech adoption “uncoordinated and fragmented”.

In a new policy paper, Martin Smith, an independent contractor, has called for greater “coordination from the centre”, saying GDS could reduce the risk of departments repeating past mistakes.

The paper was commissioned to inform the development of GDS’s new innovation team. The unit is now working with other parts of the Cabinet Office and government to draw up a new strategy for publication in spring 2019.

“Technology innovation is vital for the public sector,” the report states. “The current picture across central and local government shows lots of positive activity but also that much of it is uncoordinated and fragmented. GDS Innovation plans to help by sharing results, resources, best practice and working collaboratively on common blockers.”

The government came under scrutiny earlier this year after it emerged that GDS’s responsibility for data oversight was being transferred to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. In an article for NS Tech, Mike Bracken, the UK’s first chief data officer, wrote: “Whatever the reasons for this move, the net result was summed up by one of my ex-colleagues: ‘Government makes it harder to deliver government policy.'”