‘We can’t be a Blockbuster government serving Netflix citizens’ - Canada launches GDS equivalent

Written by Sam Trendall on 21 July 2017 in News
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‘We aren’t the first government digital service, but I believe we can be the best’, says country’s Treasury Board chief

Canada's new government digital unit will work across other departments to promote new services and ways of working

The newly launched Canadian Digital Service (CDS) intends to “modernise the way the government of Canada designs and delivers digital services”.

The government of Canada has announced the formation of a dedicated entity designed to “grow digital capacity across government [and] amplify and replicate pockets of innovation”, Canadian Treasury Board president Scott Brison said in a blog post.  

“The government of Canada has an opportunity—and a responsibility—to deliver world-class services to Canadians,” he added. “This will require disruption as we make the switch, both technically and culturally, to agile digital delivery models.”


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The role of CDS will seemingly be similar to that of the UK’s Government Digital Service, working across other departments to promote best practice and better use of digital platforms and ways of working.

“CDS will be a partner to departments in delivering measurably improved services,” Brison said. “We are rethinking the service design and delivery process from the user’s perspective, and engaging users every step of the way.”

The Treasury Board leader added that the CDS would be prepared to take the necessary risks to create the “agile digital government” Canada is striving for. 

“No doubt we’ll make mistakes, but we will make them at the alpha and beta stage – not after launching at scale,” Brison said.

The UK’s GDS  unit was launched six years ago. Brison acknowledged that Canada may not have led the way in forming such a service as the CDS, but said that the country now intends to become a world leader.

“As I have often said, in this world you’re either digital or you’re dead,” he added. “We can’t be a Blockbuster government serving a Netflix citizenry! We need to change the way we do business. CDS is just one tool in the kit, but it stands as a clear signal of our commitment.”

Brison concluded: “We aren’t the first government digital service in the world, but I believe we can be the best.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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