Digital Landscape Review – learning from the international landscape

15 September 2021

In our previous blog post on the landscape review, we’ve talked about the importance of having a clear understanding of what makes a digital service and how we’re going to base this understanding from talking to service owners.

In this latest post we wanted to go a little broader and highlight how we’re not alone in our work at the Centre for Digital Public Services. Many other similarly shaped organisations across the globe (known as “Digital Government Units”) have tackled comparable issues and we’re keen to learn from them.

What is a “Digital Government Unit”?

Since the early 2010s Digital Government Units (DGUs), largely following the path set by the first DGU – the UK’s Government Digital Service, have become a fixture of the government institutional landscape.

DGUs have appeared in:

DGUs have undoubtedly been diverse in shape, remit and focus: some operate at a national level, others subnational; some cover many government functions; others few. Broadly speaking, however, successful DGUs have been shown to share certain characteristics such as:

What have DGUs achieved?

A whole spectrum of initiatives, products, services and standards have emerged from DGUs. Looking across the world, there is much we can learn from. To cite just a few exemplars:

Slightly closer to home, much attention often focuses on the achievements of the UK Government Digital Service (GDS).

GDS, since its inception in 2011, amongst other things:

The experiences of GDS are not necessarily replicable everywhere and that’s why as part of the landscape review we’re keen to learn from a wide range of DGUs.

And we’re not just interested in learning from national level units. Much excellent digital innovation has also happened at the regional, state, city and local government level, such as in San Francisco where hundreds of local government websites are being consolidated into one, user-friendly domain.

What does this mean for the landscape review?

We’re confident there are many great lessons we can learn – both successes and failures – from DGUs.

As a starting hypothesis, we’ve identified a longlist of “things that DGUs have successfully implemented” and are using this to guide our thinking as to whether they could help inform priorities for the CDPS going forward.

The long list includes:

However, we’re not just taking these as a given – we are also proactively looking to test whether these achievements from elsewhere are applicable here, and whether anything is missing.

In order to do this, we’re having lots of conversations with individuals and organisations from across the world that have played a big part in DGU developments.

If you feel like you have something to share with us from your experiences, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or tweet us @cdps_cymru

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