Harry and Alex were at SPRINT14 this week. It’s the Government Digital Service’s annual show and tell for broader government, showing what’s been achieved and laying out the direction of travel for the next year.
Throughout the day, it was incredibly encouraging to see how seriously Government is taking the transformation of digital services. We saw ministers doing live demonstrations of their new exemplar services (including struggling with the wifi). It’s a nice idea, showing that these services are simple enough for a minister to use them, and that the ministers care enough to come out on a Wednesday (when they would otherwise be required for shouting duties at PMQs). While I think it is fair to say that there are still political questions about how individual electoral registration and identity assurance in general are going to work, it is impossible to doubt the dedication brought by GDS to making incredibly simple, well-tested and functional services.
Harry was on a panel talking about procurement in government, with representatives from ScraperWiki, Kainos, Bristol City Council and the Crown Commercial Service. The panel was about the changes and challenges in procurement in the public sector. Bill Crothers of the Crown Commercial Service (ex: GPS) was talking about some of the changes that have been made and the aims for the future with G-Cloud and Digital Services Framework working for separate buyer needs.
The questions from the floor brought out a couple of good points around giving civil servants the knowledge and confidence to procure sensibly through frameworks, letting agile contracts be agile and allowing an open marketplace that includes micro sized organisations as well as the smalls and mediums.
It was a real privilege to speak on the panel: we do a huge amount of work through G-Cloud and have recently been approved for the Digital Services Framework. Because we only work for public sector clients, we’ve had a fair bit of experience with government procurement (good and bad) and it’s great to have the opportunity to talk about it.
There is still a long way to go in sorting out government procurement (as CCS themselves pointed out on the BBC last week), but with events like SPRINT14, we get a chance to see how far things have come and can leave reassured that everyone’s trying to make it better.