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Innovation and reform in

central government
Roundtable seminar with Paul Maltby, Director of Open Data and
Government Innovation at the Cabinet Office
Reform, 45 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 3LT
Tuesday 25 March
Reform
45 Great Peter Street
London
SW1P 3LT
T 020 7799 6699
info@reform.co.uk
www.reform.co.uk
Reform is an independent, non-party think tank
whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver
public services and economic prosperity. Reform is a
registered charity, the Reform Research Trust, charity
no. 1103739. This publication is the property of the
Reform Research Trust.
We believe that by reforming the public sector,
increasing investment and extending choice, high
quality services can be made available for everyone.
Our vision is of a Britain with 21st Century healthcare,
high standards in schools, a modern and efficient
transport system, safe streets, and a free, dynamic
and competitive economy.
The roundtable seminar was financially
supported by Tata Consultancy Services:
1 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
Reform comment
The 2014 Budget confirmed what many suspected
– that the pressure on public finances will certainly
continue for this Parliament and, in all likelihood for
years to come. This means successful public service
reform remains a top priority for UK central
government. With less money to spend, new and
innovative ways of delivering public services have to
be found; the potential of technology and data must
be harnessed to deliver these efficiencies. In February
the Government awarded £1.5 million to projects that
unlock data from public bodies, and in April’s Budget
the Chancellor announced a further £42 million
investment in the Alan Turing Institute for Data
Science, to strengthen the UK’s aim to be a world
leader in the analysis and application of big data.
Of course, data is only useful to the
Government – or the public – if it supports them in
making a decision. Moreover, raw data holds little
value to the majority of the population who have yet
to grasp its full potential in their day-to-day lives.
A technological cultural change is happening, but
there is more the Government can do to speed it up.
The skills of the civil service must be improved so
that the opportunities for innovation in our public
services, and the wider economic benefits this
brings, are better understood. Equally important is
the need to foster a culture that accepts a certain
level of risk in order to test new and innovative
approaches to public service delivery. This cultural
change requires leadership and permission from
Ministers and Senior Civil Servants, with explicit
reassurance that not only is it acceptable to take
risks in search of better solutions, but that such
behaviour will be visibly rewarded.
To ensure such reforms deliver the required
savings, cultural change and wider permissions
cannot be driven from the top-down. The public will
only engage with the data and reform agenda if
people understand how it is relevant to them,
including identifying what decisions they face that
could be informed by it, as well as the wider benefit
of making their own data available in an appropriate
format. This requires permission from the individual
or the provider, which in itself requires assurance
that this proves no risk to their security. To
encourage data sharing the public and industry
must be reassured that their data is controlled but
also offered incentives to do so. We often share
data about ourselves with retailers in order to get
better deals. The Government must communicate
similar service “deals” that the public will be able to
access if their data is shared.
Innovation and reform remain vital to this
Government if it is to continue to deliver effective
public services. To succeed, it must harness the
ongoing pressure on public finances to drive a
change in the culture of the civil service and the
wider public – with stronger leadership from the top
and greater acceptance of the risks and benefits of
innovation.
Richard Harries,
Deputy Director, Reform
2 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
In March this year, the Office for Budget
Responsibility (OBR) reported that public sector net
debt as a proportion of GDP would rise in 2015-16,
not fall, corroborating its earlier forecasts. It has
since been suggested that the Government’s fiscal
programme is deferring the pain of the crisis,
making next Parliament a “dumping ground” for
problems deemed too difficult to resolve in this one.
So will innovation and public service reform
happen? All three main parties appear to recognise
that public sector budgets will be hit to an even
greater extent next Parliament than this, in order to
meet the current Government’s borrowing targets.
The question is whether the executive is enabled to
innovate around tighter public finances.
It is clear that the Government faces a choice
of either offering fewer public services, or innovating
to deliver more for less. In the immediate term,
central government has put emphasis on innovation
as a means to deliver better public services in
periods of austerity. The Cabinet Office’s Digital
Strategy and associated initiatives reinforce the
ambition that technology will release innovation
across government and the public sector.
Innovation involves taking risks and embracing
the potential for failure. Yet this process of trial and
error is not normally associated with the public
sector mind-set. In some cases, civil servants are
under greater pressure than their private sector
counterparts to deliver value for money, as they
manage public accounts. The increasingly
popularised role of Select Committees through the
media has also increased public scrutiny of the
executive.
But the civil service should be enabled to take
some risks without the reproach of Parliament. This
presents a real challenge. If the challenge is
overcome, innovation from new technologies can be
released into the public sector.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has witnessed
a number of industries shift towards digital models
of working. For example, digitisation has now
completely revolutionised how the retail and
financial service sectors operate. However, those
transformations have been borne out of competitive
pressure, rather than budgetary constraint.
Business has to deliver more for less in order to
maintain margins and competitive advantage.
Digitisation requires putting the consumer at
the heart of the transaction process. It requires an
organisation to consider how technology can make
a difference to the consumer from the front to back
office. For that reason, digitisation offers huge
financial returns. For example, TCS digitisation
projects in the public sector have been focused on
removing redundant steps in transaction processes
to both improve the customer experience and
deliver financial savings.
Innovation requires a nexus of digitisation,
mobilisation, big data and analytics. Digitisation has
the power to improve overall citizen experience of
government services, but citizens should also be
mobilised through access from a variety of different
devices. Additionally, interpreting big data sets
through the use of analytics can provide valuable
insights into government-citizen interactions.
Government needs to consider all these topics in
collaboration to transform public services.
Integrating each new technological channel with
pre-existing ones, such as paper correspondence
and telephone, will be essential.
Open data is not just about exposing vast
waves of information to the electorate. The real
power of open data is an intelligent analysis of
centrally-held information explicated in terminology
that the electorate can understand. For example,
while the creation of the OBR has brought welcome
transparency to budgetary forecasts, the OBR’s
Tata Consultancy Services
comment
Damien Venkatasamy,
Director of Public Sector,
Tata Consultancy Services
3 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
publications are still intractable to those without the
economic knowledge to interpret their models. Truly
open data should aid democracy, enabling citizens
to make better informed decisions and increasing
the transparency and accountability of government.
Sharing information across departmental
boundaries is another crucial aspect to achieving
open data. Yet cultural resistance to sharing
information is holding back innovation. Government
should embrace the opportunity to create a much
more holistic view of citizens and the services they
receive. Not least, good data sharing mechanisms
enable the detection of fraud and leakage in the
whole system.
There is huge opportunity for technology to
enable public service reform and alleviate pressure
within current budgetary constraints. Cultural
change is the biggest barrier to transforming
government in this way. However, if negative
attitudes towards central government reform can be
overcome, the vision of a highly innovative public
sector can be achieved.
4 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
Attendees
Patrick Barbour
Chairman, Barbour
Logic Ltd.

Tim Harper
Economic Adviser,
Spending and Policy
Analysis, Department
for Business
Innovation and Skills
Heather Savory
Chair, Open Data
User Group
Claire Vigier
Policy Analyist,
French Embassy in
the UK
Haidee Bell
Programme Manager,
Creative Economy,
NESTA
Richard Harries
Deputy Director,
Reform
Katy Sawyer
Researcher, Reform
Peter Campbell
Director of Corporate
Affairs, The Business
Services Association
George Leahy
Deputy Director,
Innovation Policy,
Department of Health
Sonia Sodha
Head of Public
Services & Consumer
Rights, Which?
Alice Chadwick
Creative Economy
Open Data, NESTA
Rob Mallows
Senior Policy Advisor,
Confederation of
British Industry
Ricky Taylor
Strategic Analysis
Team, Department
for Communities and
Local Government
Kerry Chapman
Regional Director,
Industry Marketing
UK & Europe, Tata
Consultancy Services
Paul Maltby
Director, Open Data
and Government
Innovation, Cabinet
Office
Damien Venkatasamy
Director of Public
Sector, Tata
Consultancy Services
Clare Fraser
Researcher,
Reform
Tony O’Connor
CBE
Senior Analytical
Strategist,
Department of
Health
Weijer Vermeer
Spokesman and
Political Attaché,
Embassy of the
Kingdom of the
Netherlands
5 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
Edited transcript
Paul Maltby, Director, Open Data and
Government Innovation, Cabinet
Office began by highlighting the role of
the Government Innovation Group in
identifying both “the boundaries of
government and where the edge of
government is,” in order to “draw in
some of the new tools and techniques,
and ways of thinking about the business
of government from the outside world
into the mainstream of government.” He
also spoke of the Group’s role “and, in
the opposite direction, to be able to try
and activate those individuals, charities,
social enterprises and businesses just
outside who are also interested in similar
sorts of questions”. He also noted that
the “need is going to continue through
the next Parliament”.
He said that there is a “sense of
government innovation and open
government data that sits somewhat
awkwardly with people’s collective sense
of what government is and what
government does,” but that the role of
the Group “is much more about the tools
and techniques” rather than specifying
outcomes.
He stressed the importance of
“thinking about how to involve and
activate citizens within the public policy
problem section…you need more than
the resources that government alone can
bring to bear,” and identified two areas
for the discussion. The first was how
digital and data can be “brought into the
broader government machine, particularly
on the policy and operations side”. The
second area was “the need for a different
civil service mind-set in a world that is
necessarily more distributed, in part
because of technology and the way in
which that has affected our lives.”
With regard to digital he said “it’s
clearly centre stage in the commercial
world in a different sort of way from
You need more than
the resources that
government alone can
bring to bear.
Paul Maltby
6 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
where we are in government… there are
too many times when I’ve been working
in a policy environment and the core skill
brought to bear is essentially one of
rhetoric and knowledge of where power
lies… and then analysis brought in after
the framing decisions are made.” He
suggested that there are “three areas
within this world of data and its potential
transformational impact on how
government is working. The first is on
open data… to take data that is in the
government machine, opening it up,
making it machine readable, reducing all
of the restrictions on re-use”.
The second is “around data sharing
within government… to be able to
observe the patterns of what happens on
things like social mobility or different
categories of the business sector, is
potentially very powerful”. He observed
that an underdeveloped area in this was
“the use of different types of data, the
unstructured data, the speed at which
some of that data is both available and
redundant, and to be able to make use of
that within the government machine.” He
added that it was important to “bring
those patterns together to use the scarce
resources that we have in a different way
and to use predictive analytics machine
learning in that space.”
The third area was open policy
making: “what we mean by open policy
making is fourfold. First of all a mind-set
that is willing to use new tools and
techniques… then to be able to have
access to a range of these sort of tools
and techniques, making sure we’re
acquiring the greater range of views into
a greater range of expertise into the
policy making process... It’s also about
using different analytical tools and
techniques. So I mentioned the data
side, but also behavioural insights or
systems thinking or wellbeing policy….
And then an agile methodology in terms
of implementing the ideas.”
He concluded with the thought: “I
think there is really interesting potential
beyond the question of the IT and the
other services that we’re providing, that
something actually goes deeper into how
we think about what it is that we do, the
way in which we frame it around the user
experience, the way in which we’re
prepared to think differently.” He asked
the audience to share “the ideas that you
have about where we should be taking
things next, the opportunities that we
haven’t explored, and also explain a bit
more about how we’re working with
others in government to do these things.”
Damien Venkatasamy, Director of
Public Services at Tata Consultancy
Services (TCS) responded by agreeing
with the enduring importance of the topic
and commented that “government faces
a choice, really, of either doing less in
terms of the range of public services it
offers or innovating.” He described one
of the challenges to innovation as risk:
“More often than not it involves a degree
of trial and error… It’s not culturally
ingrained within civil servants to take
risks, to want to try something and be
prepared to fail.” As a result of spending
public money there is “an increased
amount of scrutiny from parliament itself,
and some of the committees… And then
last but by no means least, there is the
media.” Leading on from this he posed
the question: “how can the civil service
find a way of taking some of the risks,
trial and error, in a way that enables them
to move forward without being pulled up
in front of the Public Accounts
Committee or facing headlines in The
Daily Mail?”
He observed that in industry the
“shift to the digital model…has been
borne out of competitive pressures rather
than budgetary constraint. But it’s the
same thing. They’ve got to deliver more
with less in order to maintain margins
and a competitive advantage”. He also
commented that “digitisation, is as much
about putting the customer at the heart
of the whole transaction and looking at
how technology from the back office to
the front office can really make the
customer, or in this case the citizen, the
fulcrum of how the service is delivered”.
There are too many
times when I’ve been
working in a policy
environment and the
core skill brought to
bear is essentially one
of rhetoric and
knowledge of where
power lies.
Patrick Barbour
7 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
Therefore we need to look at “how we
can remove redundant steps from the
process and make this easier from the
citizen’s perspective.”
He identified that the real
opportunities were not only around
digitisation but also “mobility – people
being able to access government
services from various different devices…
Big data and analytics – how to bring all
of those things together to improve the
customer experience rather than just
looking at any one of them in isolation…
And it’s also how do you integrate these
new digital technological channels with
your pre-existing ones to bridge all of
those consumer behaviours.”
To conclude he turned to open
data and made two observations. The
first was that “it’s pretty inaccessible to
the majority of the electorate…I think the
real power of open data is doing some
kind of intelligent analysis of that and
putting it in terminology that the
electorate can actually understand and
really use the power of open data to
increase democracy, transparency and
accountability for the government.”
The final concluding observation
was that there is “some cultural
resistance to sharing information across
departmental boundaries. Government
has a real opportunity to create a much
more holistic view of citizens and the
services they’re delivering to citizens as
well as detecting fraud and leakage in the
system if they were able to share
information more effectively and
efficiently between departments. And I
don’t think that’s so much a
technological issue there or barrier to
that. I think it’s much more about the
mind-set and the culture.”
Patrick Barbour, Chairman,
Barbour Logic Ltd. then posed the
question: “the Civil Service’s own reform
plan talks about this culture of caution
and slow moving, focused on processes
and not outcomes, bureaucratic,
hierarchical and resistant to change.
How do you achieve a culture change?”
Paul Maltby agreed that this was
“a really good question… Sometimes
there are good reasons for people to be
cautious. But I think we’ve got that out of
kilter. And I think their Civil Service reform
plan is appropriately straightforward
about that.” He continued: “As you’ll see,
as in any large organisation, you will find
those who want to innovate. What my
teams do when they do it well – like the
people working on social investment, the
guys working on open policy making – is
that they will be in touch at various
different levels with those people who are
willing to innovate and try something else
new. So I think there is a bottom-up
network approach to this. There is also a
top-down permissions thing, and I
cannot overstate the importance of that.”
He explained the importance of the
ministerial role in “encouraging innovation
and reform”, but that it is equally
important to “find a methodology that
enables us to fail in more appropriate
ways. So it’s tried and proven…
Somehow the idea that it’s less risky to
fail quickly and appropriately in a
relatively controlled way I think is not true.
I think it’s similar with the open policy
mind-set, to be able to go out and say
actually we’re only going to make this
happen if we can have a proper dialogue
with people who are fearful of it, people
who disagree with it, and people who are
a bit neutral.”
Sonia Sodha, Head of Public
Services & Consumer Rights, Which?
offered some reflections on Which?’s
work: Firstly, “we’re taking the decision to
invest in developing free-to-use advice
sites for consumers off the back of some
of this data that’s coming out of
government, to help them hold their
public services accountable and to make
decisions about public services.” She
noted though, that “It’s not just about
putting the information out there…it
takes a lot of investment …[so that] it’s
really user friendly, that really helps real
people in their real-world lives to interact
with some of this information.”
Her second point was that “I think
culture change actually is really important
all the way through. And if anything it’s
not just about the central civil service…
we’ve had quite different experiences
Government has a real
opportunity to create a
much more holistic view
of citizens and the
services they’re
delivering to citizens.
Sonia Sodha
8 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
actually in terms of professional
cultures…some professions actually see
us as a threat to them and they’ve got
involved in the politics of government and
data and have lobbied quite strongly
against some of this stuff being released.
Or actually some professions have really
embraced it and said this actually gives
us the power to go out there and tell
particular services they need to be
focusing on X, Y, Z which is what users
are really interested in.”
Tony O’Connor CBE, Senior
Analytical Strategist, Department of
Health commented that he thought the
culture “is changing slowly” but that “the
problem is of course we touch on some
legal issues. And unlike in the commercial
sector, quite often we’re talking about
data about you. And that’s when people
start to get nervous. In the fraud and
error space the public are generally
supportive of the idea of maybe linking
tax records and benefit records and you
could start to investigate it because
that’s trying to catch people. But actually
when you’re starting to try and find
innovations around other public sector
areas, like health records – and I don’t
need to draw too much attention to care.
data – there is a real risk that if we don’t
get public confidence we won’t be able
to use the data in a way which will
improve policy or the quality of services.
And this is where we need to identify
those demonstrator projects which
actually show innovation and the system
can change and deliver something
different.”
He noted that it was necessary to
“free up some resources in order to get
those demonstrator projects, identify
them, and then publicise them...to bring
the public confidence with it; because
care.data itself could actually put data
sharing back rather than forward.” He
identified three areas in the health space
that data could be used in: the first was
“the classic research element – the more
information you have, the more data you
have”. The second was “the targeted
services approach – where you can have
your dedicated healthcare”. The third
area that he suggested was to collect
the data and “provide it to the service
providers in a way that they are
developing and learning and
understanding in real time, from a
larger data set which they weren’t aware
of, so they can start to link together
different attributes.”
He concluded with the observation
that “Data is not information, information
Heather Savory, Damian Venkatasamy and Richard Harries
9 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
is not insight, insights aren’t solutions and
actually we need to work our way down
that spectrum, because in government
there are plenty of problems, and actually
we’re looking for solutions. Just putting
the data out there doesn’t get us there.”
Peter Campbell, Director of
Corporate Affairs, The Business
Services Association commented that
“more could be done in terms of the
public sector markets and the use of
data when a public service is provided by
an organisation that is not governmental”
and noted that “in many cases when the
private sector provides a service, there is
already more data, in terms of KPIs and
similar. When the public sector provides
a service, if the same amount of
information was available for potential
private sector, social enterprise or
voluntary sector providers, then that
would unleash a great deal of
innovation.” He asked “is the view within
government that there has been this kind
of big data dump and now it’s up to
everyone else to sort the data out; or
that we’ve reached a limit of the data
that can be released because of
ownership; or that there are further ideas
and progress that can be made on
making sure that cost and output in
terms of public services is more readily
available, so that potential providers can
show what innovation they could bring to
the table?”
Paul Maltby responded that
contracts are “going to go through
another iteration” of scrutiny “but also
you’re freeing up a market, as colleagues
at Government Digital Services have
done, opening that world to innovative
SMEs rather than the same four massive
providers. There is a huge amount of
opportunity there, and that is still
something we’re chasing down.” He
noted that “What I think is interesting is
one of the untapped spaces where you
have a degree of user voice or choice
when interacting with a public service…
and actually the things that are there are
quite clunky…so I think there are still
loads of things we could do.” He also
added “there are obviously political
choices about what we think
government’s role should be in this
space, and I’m sure that that would vary
according to different political parties.
But I’m somewhat wary of government
going out and making lots of things.
Sometimes – but I’m not sure that that’s
our main role.”
Heather Savory, Chair, Open
Data User Group commented that “the
more data you think about being
available, the more the opportunity in
both the public sector and for private
sector companies. The real point about
innovation is you cannot anticipate what
people are going to do and we should
not try, the platform just needs to be
there.” She added that “the availability of
data and technology is fantastic but it
does not substitute for the need to think,
the need to analyse, and the need to add
value to actually deliver things of benefit.”
She also addressed the view of the
citizen: “the point that we need to get
across to the citizen is it is still their
choice. It is about designing products
and services which they can choose to
be part of or not. You’ve got to allow
people this opt out”.
Finally she added “I just caution
everybody against trying to over-engage
with the public. Look at real technical
innovation. Look at the mobile phone.
Nobody ever wanted that; somebody
designed it. Look at the tablet computer.
Nobody ever wanted that; somebody
designed it. I think that same mind-set
needs to be applied to the design of new
public services. There is almost too much
trying to ask the public what they want
when they don’t understand what the
opportunities are…. But getting your
alpha testing of a new product out there
without trying to engage too much first is
one of the ways you can get things done
much more quickly than the current
design in public services.”
George Leahy, Deputy Director,
Innovation Policy, Department of
Health commented that: “Innovation in
all forms comes in from different
directions. Sometimes you do need to go
out, find the customer, find out what’s
motivating them and design things
around them. Sometimes somebody is
going have an idea and somebody needs
to be able to test it, try it, fail, let it fail,
improve it, develop it, and nobody paid
for it anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
That comes back to Paul’s points, really,
and I think actually three things at the
beginning that he mentioned around risk
taking and public money and the scrutiny
in the media and the politics…those
three points are completely interlinked…
how do you create those safe
environments that has the confidence of
ministers to actually allow you to take an
experiment?”
Tim Harper, Economic Adviser,
Spending and Policy Analysis,
Department for Business Innovation
and Skills (BIS) offered some insights
into the approach that BIS is taking:
“Rather than just roll out programmes
and say this is what we’re going to do,
it’s really started piloting and looking at
examples, seeing if it works, and then
waiting. There is a culture of waiting for
the feedback to come in, then analysing
it and moving forward.” He also
mentioned the importance of “getting
evaluation data to see where we can get
the evidence from things that have gone
on to inform the future.”
How do you create
those safe
environments that has
the confidence of
ministers to actually
allow you to take an
experiment?
There is almost too
much trying to ask the
public what they want
when they don’t
understand what the
opportunities are.
10 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
Haidee Bell, Programme
Manager, Creative Economy, NESTA
directed a question to Paul: “I wonder
what your ambitions might be for local
authorities?”
Paul Maltby responded: “Local
authorities are one of the big priorities to
make the shift on… what we’ve got to do
is to encourage that agenda around open
data, not just about expenses and
accountability type data but on to the
possibilities.” He offered examples from
Manchester (Future Everything) and
Leeds (Data Mill) as organisations that
say “this is how we can help you and
your citizens, rather than these are a set
of things you must do because the
government told you to do them.”
Kerry Chapman, Regional
Director, Industry Marketing UK &
Europe, Tata Consultancy Services,
added: “Local government is quite
interesting because if you look at it, it’s
more like a private sector situation in that
one local authority doesn’t like to share
with another local authority because
they’re looking for investment, housing to
develop, etc. So they’re almost like
competitors in the banking world,
whereas in government departments
they’re in the business of doing
government centrally.”
He also shared the results of a
recent survey that found “across local
and public leaders’ networks people
want training… The next thing they want
is they want sharing – they want the data
to be shared across government… And
the third thing is they want is leadership
and drive – they want to know what
they’re going to do with it and why they
should do it.” He observed that these
findings are “similar to what we see in the
private sector…in the private sector you
can build it, and what’s the question?
And that’s really what it comes down to
when you look at data and open data.
You can provide it, but why do you need
to provide it?”
Haidee Bell added that “There
may be more innovation that can happen
at the local level…there is this in-built
competition that many of them want to
be the first to get there. We work across
Europe on a couple of programmes, and
there is certainly a competition across
Europe to be the leading city that’s doing
great stuff and showing its impact from
open data. There is a huge potential in
there to try to win that. So maybe it
doesn’t need to follow the GDS and the
open data central model, but actually to
try to build its own local capabilities.”
Rob Mallows, Senior Policy
Advisor, Confederation of British
Industry commented that there “is a
tremendous sort of wellspring of ideas,
whether it’s from the public sector or
through data from the private sector”
and that this provided “a huge export
potential because economies all across
the world are facing the same challenges.
If we are ahead of the game in how we
can use digital and data, not just as a
benefit for us, it actually has huge export
potential too. So that’s where I think the
government can support in terms of
giving life to some of these ideas not just
in terms of the UK but globally.”
Heather Savory added: “Business
also needs to help government. The
issues around the procurement of public
services are changing. So the rules are
going to be changed such that there is a
presumption to have any data which is
collected available as open data up front.
So that’s first of all because we’ve got
difficulties at the moment with legacy
systems. So getting that data out, there
are contractual things that need to
change…But also in terms of openness
and joint procurement, business has got
to be prepared to have a little bit more of
a social conscience and be prepared to
open up its own figures because you get
this response: ‘well, we can’t possibly
have open contracting because how can
we possibly be competitive in our
industry?’ Well, most sectors know
exactly what their competitors are doing
in the real world.”
Rob Mallows agreed with this and
said: “We have put out a set of principles
very much responding to what you’re
saying in terms of building in right from
Katy Sawyer, Rob Mallows and Tim Harper
If we are ahead of the
game in how we can
use digital and data, not
just as a benefit for us,
it actually has huge
export potential too.
11 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
the get-go the principle about
transparency around the contract data,
around access to data, around the FOI
agenda…There is absolutely a
recognition from us, and I think from our
members as well, that they have to come
part of the way as well, and I think we are
very much committed to transparency in
procurement.”
Tony O’Connor raised a concern
“that we’ve got a solution and we’re still
looking for the problem. And it’s actually
making sure that we know what we’re
going to try to solve.” He also added that
there “is a risk of scope creep that we all
come here thinking about what our
version of what big data or transparency
is. And I think there is a call for the
potential of using analytics in a different
way in order to improve services. But it’s
getting that taxonomy right so we’re
using the same language.”
Sonia Sodha responded that
“actually when you step back and look at
what some local authorities are doing,
there is a real disconnect between these
mountains of data and what services are
being offered. So I think it’s just a point
about capability and what central
government and other intermediaries can
do that isn’t just letting a thousand
flowers bloom that encourages that
uptake.”
Paul Maltby then posed the
question: “What are the areas that should
have happened by now but haven’t?”
Heather Savory responded that
“For me, I think it’s about within the next
twelve months gaining critical mass… in
terms of the training…and underlying IT
infrastructure of government and the
public sector.” She added that it “needs
data available of a good enough
standard, but also with commitment that
it gets refreshed and updated on a
known basis.”
Damien Venkatasamy offered an
additional response that he “would have
expected a much wider range of services
Richard Harries, Tony O’Connor and Haidee Bell
Business has got to be
prepared to have a little
bit more of a social
conscience and be
prepared to open up its
own figures.
12 www.reform.co.uk
Innovation and reform in central government
to be available online and for that service
request to be fulfilled online in one
transaction.” He agreed that, in the
experience of TCS, “the real challenge
from a technological standpoint has been
the legacy environment that we’ve
inherited, the quality of the data, making
sense of that in a digital delivery model…
a big challenge and a cost.”
Patrick Barbour asked “In how
many of the 16 departments of
government is the permanent secretary a
real champion?”
Paul Maltby responded “different
cultures have emerged because each
department has got its own preferred
way of doing things. Some will regulate.
Some will pass a new law. Some will tax
someone. The sort of in-built, long-term
movement. But seeing those [civil
servants] address this question of ‘how
do you bring some of these new tools
and techniques into the way in which we
do our business’ is something that
actually makes me hopeful. There is a set
of people there who are actually deeply
powerful individuals within the system
who are grappling with this in a practical
sense and they’re getting their sense of
corporate reward by bringing those
things on.”
Paul Maltby
Different cultures have
emerged because each
department has got its
own preferred way of
doing things. Some will
regulate. Some will pass
a new law. Some will tax
someone.
Reform
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info@reform.co.uk
www.reform.co.uk
ISBN 978-1-909505-32-2