EXCL: Minister on plan for government digital tools that ‘serve users proactively – rather than reactively’

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 March 2021 in News
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Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez tells PublicTechnology Live event about the ambition behind the development of GOV.UK accounts

Credit: UK Parliament/CC BY 3.0

Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez has spoken of her ambition for government’s online platforms to proactively serve citizens with information and services, rather than simply reacting to their requests.

The Government Digital Service – for which Lopez (pictured above) assumed ministerial responsibility last year – is in the process of developing GOV.UK Accounts, which aim to offer citizens a single log-in for all government’s online services. This will replace a patchwork of what the digital agency claims is over 100 separate means of logging in to access various services across departments.

In her opening address to the PublicTechnology Live event this morning, Lopez said that the aim of the project is not only to simplify government’s internal operations, but to offer users a more tailored and personal experience.

“Work is ongoing to develop a GOV.UK account which, over time, will allow us to proactively information and services to users based on their user needs and what they have told us about themselves,” she said. “This will reduce friction for users, so they do not have to give giving different parts of government the same information multiple times and link together services to make user journeys simpler.”

"As we build back... world-class digital services have to be central to our response. Citizens and business must be able to seamlessly and securely interact with government in a much more personalised, trusted and timely way."
Julia Lopez, Cabinet Office minister

The minister claimed that this work represents part of the “next phase in government reform and digital transformation”. This will also encompass tackling the issues caused by ageing tech infrastructure, and improving the use of data across public services.

“As we build back together as one nation, world-class digital services have to be central to our response,” she said. “Citizens and business must be able to seamlessly and securely interact with government in a much more personalised, trusted and timely way. They expect and deserve accessible and efficient digital services, and so our ambition across the whole of the public sector has to be to offer the same high-quality user experience as people have come to expect from all other areas of their lives.”

Lopez added: “This means removing the barriers caused by legacy IT across the public sector, making use of common components and patterns to build services quickly and efficiently, and better understanding what users need, so we can serve them proactively – rather than reactively. It also means ensuring that we are making decisions based on the best available data and information and data, ensuring decision-makers have accessible information in the way they need, when they need it.”

Elsewhere in her address, the minister paid tribute to the work of government digital, data and technology professionals in consistently meeting the “Herculean” challenges of the last year. 

She cited the examples of the GOV.UK coronavirus landing page that went live after just five days work and was viewed 18 million times during its first week online. 

Lopez also pointed to the service – jointly developed by multiple departments, the NHS, and other public- and private-sector bodies – through which vulnerable people were able to obtain support. This service had “facilitated 4.2 million deliveries of essential goods”, according to the minister.

“By continuing to place user needs at the core of delivery and through hard work, collaboration and innovation, we have been able to deliver the rapid transformation needed to support citizens and businesses during what has been an unprecedented moment,” she said. “There is a lot to be proud of.”

 

PublicTechnology Live is running today and tomorrow. The online event includes 50 expert speakers from across government, the wider public sector and industry, participating presentations and discussions on a comprehensive range of topics. here is still time to register for your place – which is free of charge for all public-sector employees. Click here to do so.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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