Private sector ‘key to digital transformation of services’

12 Jul 18

The private sector can help drive technological transformation of public services, the CIPFA conference has been told.

Matthew Taylor CIPFA 2018

Photo: Rafa Bastos

There should be no “ideological problem” with collaboration between public and private sectors to help deliver better public services, according to Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, who addressed delegates this morning.

To exploit technology that can transform services “we must have a much more creative relationship with the private sector”, Taylor told the conference.

He added that this must be “a relationship that the public can approve of” and could be achieved through openness and transparency.

Discussing the potential for what he called “tech-enabled, people-centred public services” Taylor highlighted three key areas that can help achieve this: an effective data strategy; creating outward-looking, innovative organisations and collaborating with the private sector.

“There is no way that we can exploit the opportunities that technology provides unless the public and private sector work together,” he said.

Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office, said public sector transformation has lagged behind that of the private sector.

“We haven’t managed to take advantage of tech the same way the private sector has,” Davinson told the session and added “we have not delivered the scale of transformation that the public expects of us.”

She noted that in the seven years since the Government Digital Service was introduced, it had achieved a lot but that there was still “an awful lot to do”.

Davinson highlighted a “black hole” in government IT investment and to address this she said “we must remake the case” for digital transformation.

Asked about the potential for a creative culture in the typically regimented civil service, Davinson accepted the need to shift to “a process that accepts the possibility of failure.”

Davinson concurred with Taylor on the need to work with the private sector.

She said: “I think the days of big outsourcing are gone, but I think we will continue to be dependent on a good relationship with the private sector.”

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