Two years ago, the United Kingdom launched GOV.UK in beta, redefining what a government platform could be online.
This month, the Cabinet Office demonstrated five new core digital services for the first time. The services are worth noting, as are the means of their production. In this young century, it is increasingly clear that platforms will be at the core of the digital economy and government itself. GOV.UK, which has gone through hundreds of iterations since it officially launched, represents a "digital by default" approach to governance and an award-winning set of design principles that deserve to be studied and adopted around the world.
In a time when digital government supports open government, the choices that the United Kingdom is making around open source and open data are worth studying, just as its positions on press freedom, mass surveillance and transparency require scrutiny.
To learn more about the new services, I interviewed Mike Bracken, the Executive Director of Digital at the U.K. Cabinet Office, about what’s coming from the Government Digital Services (GDS) team and Her Majesty’s Government, what the changes will mean for tens of millions of Britons, and his thoughts on legislative proposals to create a Digital Government Office and IT reforms in the United States.
Speaking to NPR late last year, Bracken urged the United States government to adopt a digital core, reforming how it builds, buys and maintains services. As the White House considers and, eventually, implements reforms to avoid another Healthcare.gov debacle, the United Kingdom's experience will remain relevant.
Our interview, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.
Can people see the new services online now?
These services will go live over the next two months. Today was the day not to ‘live’ them but to view them. You can see previews at https://www.gov.uk/transformation. (Numbers 1, 9, 15, 21 and 24.)
The uninteresting thing is that they’re simple Web interfaces. The beauty of them is simplicity.
(By Alexander B. Howard)