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Digital transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency


One of government’s main challenges is achieving efficiency savings. The civil service employs over half a million people in the UK and runs diverse operations and services that range from collecting taxes and processing benefits claims to, for example, granting rod fishing licences.

In 2020-21, central government departments expected to spend £456 billion on these day-to-day running costs of public services, grants and administration.

The Government has established a new Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) which the NAO has found in its report is laying good foundations, but many of the critical and more challenging milestones lie in the future.

CDDO’s small budget and headcount are already affecting the intended reforms to government central functions’ treatment of digital programmes. In addition, departments are finding that, in current market conditions, they cannot acquire sufficient digital skills and expertise in their teams.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, commenting on the NAO report, said “It's very encouraging to see the Central Digital and Data Office has taken on my committee’s feedback on digital transformation in government and how fundamental barriers must not be ignored.

Today’s NAO report shows it has begun to address the underlying issues which have frustrated previous attempts to transform and has helped departments secure funding for investment in digital change over the next three years.

While it has laid the foundations, it is now up to departments' business leaders to step up and understand what is needed to lead digital change so government can achieve real efficiencies.”

The Committee will question officials including from the CDDO on how government plans to address the issues underlying why past attempts at digital transformation have experienced problems. The Committee will look at:

  • the current landscape, drivers for change and government’s new approach
  • how government is undertaking its new approach
  • how the Roadmap is addressing key challenges to digital transformation.

If you have relevant evidence to inform the Committee’s questioning of senior officials at the Cabinet Office on these issues, please submit it here by 23:59 on Tuesday 9 May.

Please have a look at the requirements for written evidence submissions and note the Committee cannot accept as evidence material that has been published elsewhere.