Government Digital Service

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The Government Digital Service is a unit of the Her Majesty's Government's Cabinet Office tasked with transforming the provision of government digital services.[1] It was formed in April 2011 to implement the 'Digital by Default' strategy proposed by a report produced for the Cabinet Office in 2010 called 'Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution'. It is overseen by the Public Expenditure Executive (Efficiency & Reform) which is co-chaired by Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matthew Hancock and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands. GDS is primarily based at Aviation House on Kingsway in Holborn, London.[2] Its executive director is Stephen Foreshew-Cain.[3]


On 20 July 2010, Directgov was moved to the Cabinet Office from the Department of Work and Pensions. Since 1 April 2011 Directgov is part of the Government Digital Service. On 13 September 2012, through a notice on the Directgov homepage, it was announced that the GOV.UK project, built by the Government Digital Service, would replace Directgov as the primary website of the UK Government on 17 October 2012, after which Directgov would close.[4]

'Digital by Default' strategy

The strategy was proposed in a report called 'Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution' prepared by Martha Lane Fox, the founder of In an interview, Francis Maude, minister with responsibility for the GDS has spoken about "powerful oligopolies" and the reliance on a single supplier as a cause of high profile failures in public sector IT, such as NHS Connecting for Health. The GDS is intended to "drive service delivery to digital across government and provide support, advice and technical expertise for departments as they develop new digital delivery models". This strategy is focussed on the application of Agile software development and Lean software development methodologies, supplied primarily via small and medium enterprises rather than large suppliers.[5]

The GDS has a 'Digital Advisory Board' consisting of high profile external experts, which meets bi-annually and advises the GDS on strategy.[6]

As of 2013, less than 2 years after GDS began, GDS had over 200 staff;[7] by 2015 that number had risen to approximately 500.[8]

Government as a Platform

The GDS have for a number of years been promoting the concept of Government as a Platform,[9] an idea first broached by Tim O'Reilly in 2010.[10] Government as a Platform introduces "a new vision for digital government; a common core infrastructure of shared digital systems, technology and processes on which it’s easy to build brilliant, user-centric government services".[11]

GOV.UK Verify

In 2011 the GDS was given responsibility for setting cross-government standards for identity assurance, with the authority to approve, commission and accredit the identity component of any central government public service. The GDS then designed and built GOV.UK Verify.[12] GOV.UK Verify is the way prove who you are online giving safer access to government services like filing your tax or checking the information on your driving licence. GOV.UK Verify allows you to choose from a list of companies certified to verify your identity to government. These companies have to meet published standards for identity assurance.[13]

See also


  1. Digital Advisory Board to support Government Digital Service wired Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2012
  2. Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution British Government, Retrieved 23 November 2010
  3. Neville, Sarah (February 22, 2016). "Culture clash with Whitehall deemed 'necessary' to deliver IT change". Financial Times. p. 4. 
  4. Executive Director of Digital in the Cabinet Office Mike Bracken. Retrieved 20.05.2011
  5. Maude sets out 'digital by default', single-platform vision for UK government Computing Incisive Media UK Retrieved 12 Jun 2012
  6. The U.K.'s Digital Plan to Innovate Government The Wall Street Journal Retrieved September 19, 2012, 5:41 p.m. ET
  7. Saul Klein. "Government Digital Service: the best startup in Europe we can't invest in". 2013-11-15.
  8. "GDS mission - the next phase | Government Digital Service". Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  9. [1] GDS blog: Government as a Platform: the next phase of digital transformation
  10. [2] Open Government: Chapter 2. Government As a Platform
  11. [3] GDS blog: Government as a Platform: the next phase of digital transformation
  12. [4] GOV.UK Verify homepage
  13. [5] Identity assurance: enabling trusted transactions

External links