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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.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Tuesday 9 May 2023.

Reports, special reports and government responses

View all reports and responses
Seventieth Report - Digital transformation in government: addressing the barriers to efficiency
Inquiry Digital transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency
HC 1229
Response to this report
Treasury minutes: Government response to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Seventieth report from Session 2022-23
HC 1229
Government Response
Correspondence from Paul Lincoln CB OBE VR, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, re Delivery the digital strategy update, dated 31 August 2023
Inquiry Digital transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency
Correspondence from Alex Chisholm, Civil Service Chief Operating Officer and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary, re Digital Transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency, dated 7 June 2023
Inquiry Digital transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency

Oral evidence transcripts

View all oral evidence transcripts
22 May 2023
Inquiry Digital transformation in government: addressing barriers to efficiency
Witnesses Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, and Cabinet Office
Oral Evidence
Mr John Finlay (Change and Benefits Delivery Manager within the Department of Informatics and Project Management (2004-2011) - working on projects relating to the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)(later known as Connecting for Health) at North of Tyne Primary Care Trusts (I.e., North Tyneside; Newcastle; and Northumberland Primary Care Trusts)) (DGE0001)
Splunk (DGE0002)
DXC Technology (DGE0004)

Contact us

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  • Address: Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA