Government Digital Service role unclear, says NAO

30 Mar 17

More needs to be done ensure the digital transformation of the government offers value for money, the National Audit Office has said.

The NAO today published a report into the impact of the Government Digital Service, an agency which was established in 2011 to improve digitalisation in government. It has a budget of £455m over the next four years.

It concluded the GDS had successfully reshaped government's approach to technology and transformation but warned “there remains a risk it is trying to cover too broad a remit with unclear accountabilities”.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Digital transformation has a mixed track record across government. It has not yet provided a level of change that will allow government to further reduce costs while still meeting people's needs.  

“To achieve value for money and support transformation across government, GDS needs to be clear about its role and strike a balance between robust assurance and a more consultative approach.” 

The report noted that in its early days the GDS supported exemplars of digital transformation.

In 2012, 25 services were identified for end-to-end service redesign, aimed at showing the benefits of users accessing the services online. By March 2015, 15 of these exemplars were operational and a further five were being trialled with the public.

However, in 2015 only 12 of the 22 programmes which had data showed positive net present values.  

Although, the NAO did comment that the GDS’s strong controls over spending and service design have saved an estimated £1.3bn on IT over five years to April 2016. Around 3,000 civil servants are expected to be trained each year through the GDS digital academy.

Did you enjoy this article?