The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – the Conservatives

 

You’ve probably heard – you may even have begun to tire of the wall to wall coverage – but on Thursday 7th May, Britain will go to the polls to vote for the next government.

Thanks to the rise of UKIP, the SNP and the Greens, and the vagaries of the first-past-the-post voting system, the result is almost impossible to predict. The potential outcomes range from majority governments for either the Conservatives or Labour (albeit unlikely, based on current polling), to various flavours of coalition or minority government, depending on the final tally of seats for each party.

This sounds like a recipe for policy paralysis. However, when it comes to technology and digital transformation of the public sector, there is good reason to think that the work begun by the present government will largely continue.

The Conservative Government – a Digital Pledge

The Conservative-led coalition entered office pledging to be the most digital government ever. Under the leadership of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office has driven Whitehall savings of more than £14.5 billion since 2010. Renegotiating contracts with large IT suppliers and adopting open source and cloud-based solutions have made a major contribution to this.

Another key reform has been the Government Digital Service (GDS), which has revolutionised the way government delivers citizen services. By bringing in outside talent, and focusing on user needs and good design principles, GDS has been able to transform a wide range of services people use every day. Citizens can now register to vote, renew a patent, apply for carer’s allowance, and even book a prison visit, using online processes as straightforward as anything produced by the likes of Google or Amazon.

Continuing the Digital Revolution

At the Autumn Statement in December, the Government shared the first details of its plans to continue the digital revolution after the election. The use of cloud-based services and digitisation will increase, but instead of simply putting services online, the goal is to increase digital uptake of services to 90% by 2020 by developing new cross-government platforms to deliver payments, track applications (e.g. for a driving license or passport), and book appointments. To encourage private sector innovation, all new digital services will be available via an open Application Programming Interface (API) as well as a web browser, and more data sets will be opened up. Many of these ideas were first proposed by Policy Exchange’s Tech Manifesto for government, which EMC supported.

If the Conservatives intend to go further and faster on government transformation, what of the other two main parties? Watch out for our next blog post, which will look at Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and what they have in store for tech.

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