Transforming the Digital Marketplace: Chris Skidmore speech

Minister Chris Skidmore spoke at the D5 summit of leading digital governments about the UK government's progress in digital public services.

Kamsahamnida. Annyeong-hashimnikka.

Thank you. Hello.

I am delighted to be in Busan this week to represent the UK at the D5 Ministerial Summit. This is my first visit to the Republic of Korea, a country with whom the United Kingdom has enjoyed a strong relationship for over 130 years.

And I am especially delighted that this year’s D5 Ministerial Summit takes place alongside Korea’s 3.0 Global Forum. It’s a privilege to speak to a global audience of distinguished guests here today and to share with you the UK’s digital journey. And I commend our hosts on their excellent organisation of this event.

The UK government is proud to be recognised as one of the leaders in digital government. But in 2009 we told a different story. Our government IT spending was higher than that of many other countries, but far less efficient. So we have come a long way. But, as we know, the digital landscape shifts at an unprecedented rate and we cannot afford to be complacent.

We must continue to be alert to the opportunities that technology and the internet provide, and open to sharing and learning with other countries.

That is why the D5 was founded in 2014. It gives us the chance to learn and share with like minded colleagues and digital leaders across the world.

D5 countries share the same mission: to transform the relationship between citizen and state and in doing so, improve citizen’s lives. To do this, collaboration is vital. We must work together to share best practice, develop solutions to common issues, and build digital public services.

And in the spirit of collaboration, I’d like to start by sharing a little about what the UK has done to improve its public services.Then, happily, I’ll tell you what we’ve achieved as a result and what the future looks like for us across the UK.

When we set about reforming our services, we knew that users had to be at the heart of everything we do. And that is the first principle of our Digital Service Standard, a standard which has been replicated by governments both locally and internationally.

Putting users first means understanding exactly what people need from their interaction with government and then delivering it seamlessly.

It means creating common services across government, services like The Digital Marketplace, which improves procurement by opening up the public sector to small and medium enterprises. In the last few months, the total spend through Digital Marketplace has exceeded £1.5 billion.

Now, the barriers have been lowered for small businesses and innovative start-ups to sell digital services to government. This is a billion pound a year market, 52% of which is with small businesses. We are buying from the best, be they big or small. The determining factor is now, rightly, the technical excellence of a business, not how skilful they are at filling in a procurement form.

GOV.UK Verify allows the citizen to create a single online identity to access a growing number of government services. And since going live in May, GOV.UK Verify has verified more than 900,000 users.

GOV.UK Notify enables service teams to send text messages, emails or letters to their users, before they get anxious enough to call. This saves time and effort by reducing the need for people to sit on hold waiting for an update on their application or to check if their payment has been received. GOV.UK Notify has started sending text messages and emails to users of government services.

GOV.UK Pay makes it easier for people to pay for government services online. It has been industry accredited and is ready for business.

This work has made us number 1 in both the United Nation’s E–Government Development Index and the E–Participation Index this year.

We believe that by making things open, you make things better.

We share expertise worldwide through open source, open standards, open data and international collaboration.

We want to be the most transparent government in the world. We are committed to the UK’s Open Government National Action Plan, which sets out our commitments to greater openness, transparency and civic participation. We publish new commitments every 2 years, alongside other members of the Open Government Partnership, such as our D5 co-founders New Zealand, Israel, South Korea and Estonia who are in the room today.

We have shared our code for Digital Marketplace with the United States and Australia. As a result of this collaboration, Australia has recently launched a public beta for it’s own Digital Marketplace.

We release our open data sets through to enable people to build their own products and services. A number of apps based around health and transport, for example, have been built using open government data.

The Open Standards Principles are the criteria by which we judge a standard as ‘open’ and whether it deserves to be approved for use by government. We identify and contribute to Open Standards for software interoperability and data formats that will help to meet user needs across government and support the delivery of common components.

And we collaborate and build networks, both at international summits like this, but also within our own government.

We have, for example, recently strengthened our Technology Leaders Network, to better support the needs of our users: in this case, the technology community.

I’ve spoken about what we’ve established. Let’s talk about the future.

Many of you here today will recognise the challenge of recruiting and retaining the right people to support and enable digital transformation. We’ve made a lot of headway in this area and this is something we will discuss at the D5 summit tomorrow.

Essentially, we must build our capability, to make government the destination of choice for digital data and technology professionals. That’s why we have a designated specialised professions team, to support our plans to transform the Civil Service giving government the capability to efficiently deliver citizen-facing services.

Leanna Jones, Learning and Development Lead at GDS will be leading a workshop to share more about what we have done, and intend to do in the future, to increase digital and technology capability cross government.

The new digital strategy will be published by the end of this year. It will lay out the ways in which we will continue to transform government together. And just last week, at the National Cyber Security Centre, we launched our cyber strategy, which received £1.9 billion of investment. It sets out ambitious policies to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.

So let me finish by saying there is still a lot to do, but we’re determined to keep pace with the speed of change. We want to help other governments to build the best public services. To share our code, our methodology, our standards.

And we want to be open about what we’re doing so that citizens feel confident and empowered, selling to government is competitive and open, and new technologies are harnessed.

We’re committed to collaboration because we know that we can’t achieve what we need to without it.

Thank you.


Cabinet Office
Chris Skidmore MP
Government Digital Service