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The key to delivering digital government services

In September 2020, the UK government’s Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden launched the National Data Strategy, putting data at the heart of the UK’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy proposes an overhaul of data usage across the UK public sector, including a program of work to transform the way data is managed, used and shared, both internally and with third-party organizations and private citizens. The National Data Strategy’s ultimate aim was the creation of an efficient, ethical and interoperable data infrastructure.

Whilst this is a positive step forward for the UK’s public sector, recent research conducted by OpenText during the summer of 2020 reveals significant challenges facing the UK’s local authorities, especially when it comes to the digitization of citizen information.  For example, almost a third (31%) of UK local authorities state they are unable to confirm exactly how much of the information they store and manage for local citizens is digitalized. Only 11% have fully digitalized all of their citizen records.

Pre-pandemic need

Even prior to the pandemic, the need for modernization of government technology and information management was clear.

Relying heavily on legacy technology creates several risks for organizations: data and security vulnerabilities; being locked in to uncompetitive support arrangements with a single supplier; and a proliferation of work around processes as systems cannot keep up with changing business needs. The organization as a whole becomes less responsive, as it becomes costlier and takes longer to adapt public services to policy or other changes.”

– UK Institute of Government

While progress is being made -̶  40% of local authorities have digitalized the majority (76-99%) of the information they store and manage for local citizens -̶  it is obvious that local governments must address their technical debt and find ways to fund and embrace a new digital world. COVID 19 has done nothing, if not exacerbate the risks and challenges noted above – and citizens are hungry for change.

Last year, separate research from Accenture found that over half (51%) of UK citizens would increase their use of government services if they could access them all from a single online portal. Yet this latest research from OpenText revealed that over a quarter (27%) of UK citizens are still unable to access their own digital records online. With budgets reduced by the economic consequences of the pandemic, a long-term shift to home working, and rising citizen demand for more innovative services, the time to completely digitize citizen information, and modernize IT and information management systems in the UK public sector is now.

Information and content services

A modern content services platform, which stretches across different departments, includes solutions for the capture and digitization of information. It will provide a single point of access to relevant information and documentation, regardless of where it is and in what form, for staff working remotely. That’s also true for partners and citizens, as most digital platforms can integrate with portals or quickly create their own portals and access points to provide third parties with secure access to the information they need. Such a modern, cloud-centric content services platform for local governments across the globe can help:

  • Improve the agility of operations and re-define the type of citizen service delivered and how they are delivered
  • Provide the tools and information access needed to enable a remote and distributed workforce
  • Help to address access and equity gaps
  • Harness the value of information to deliver insights and improve decision-making
  • Improve communication with citizens and build digital trust

At a time when governments across the globe are working day and night to protect the most vulnerable, support local businesses, and keep services running normally, government departments are striving for easier, faster ways to share and collaborate both internally with staff and externally with citizens and third-party organizations. The government departments and agencies that embrace the potential of digital platforms will be best positioned to serve staff, partners and citizens through the turbulent and uncertain times ahead.

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Tracey Lethbridge

Tracey Lethbridge heads up the UK and Ireland Public Sector team at Open Text. With over 20 years’ experience working with Central and Local Government clients, previously working at Oracle, Tibco, BEA Systems, and Staffware, Tracey has in-depth knowledge of the issues facing Public Sector organizations and remains focused on the delivery of value and successful outcomes to her customers.

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