CGBT Conference 2018: Re-engineering government processes through private sector collaboration


By: Michael Hughes

Digital business is a term invented by people who have not realised the transformative power of Information Technology for the last three decades and who have suddenly woken up.” –Jem Eskenazi, Chief Technology Officer, UK Export Finance

IT adoption in the public sector still lags considerably behind that of the private sector within the UK. The innovative, future focused approach long since adopted by successive Estonian governments has not been replicated by other European administrations despite the obvious gains achieved and realised through a more dynamic and responsive form of governance.

One such lag which was exposed at CGBT 2018 was the way in which BYOD and remote working was spoken of as if they were recently discovered innovative ways of working when such a perspective has long since been normal practice across the private sector. Surely the heights of innovative practices in government processes should reach beyond being able to bring your laptop to work or send an email from the comfort of the kitchen table. It is for this reason that collaboration between the public and private sector is of fundamental importance, because without enough engagement the UK will never become a leader in the digitisation of government operations, which in turn prevents the potential for better governance through modern methods of service delivery.

So, how does government, both local, national, and supranational, move beyond its current parameters and start doing rather than talking digital transformation? First and foremost, it must stop operating in silos and start sharing best practice across departments. One such example of departmental silos was highlighted by Michelle Parmenter, Deputy Director, Government Shared Services, Delivery Directorate, who spoke of the strategy in which a holistic, one process approach to conducting government business is set to be achieved by 2020.

Michelle spoke of the fact that currently there is not a uniform way in which invoices are submitted and processed. This leads to inefficient procurement processes which in turn leads to a slowdown in the delivery of services necessary to fulfil departmental obligations and meet the needs of citizens. Standardised ways of working will produce a digital ecosystem in which the benefit of good governance will be achieved.

In short, the relationship between government and the private sector in the British context is, despite the obvious gaps, strong and with continuing engagement there is no reason why the UK cannot move towards the position of being a leader in digital governance equal in prominence with the example set by Estonia which maintains its reputation as a world leader regardless of  fluctuations in the global political economy or the changing of the party in charge. Digital transformation can and must transcend ideology. The value in such transformation is clear, both in terms of how government works and the manner in which citizens engage with the state.

Join us for our next Central Government Business and Technology conference on 25 September 2019 at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel in London. Register at www.whitehallmedia.co.uk/cgbt