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Guest blog: A view of Sprint 15 from the Home Office

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Arriving at Sprint 15

On 3 February Sprint 15 celebrated the success of digital transformation across Government over the last couple of years and also set challenges for the years to come. The event was intended to be a chance for colleagues from all over government to catch up, compare notes, and find out more about the transformation programme. Here Stephen Taylor reflects on the day.

My colleague, Ian Marson, and I are the Product Owners for the Immigration Identity Assurance System (IIAS) project, within the Home Office Immigration Platform Technologies (IPT) programme. This Programme is providing the technology and information to support the immigration service now and in the future. The Visas exemplar is also part of the same programme.

We were pleased to see so many colleagues from both IPT and the GDS Transformation Programme at Sprint 15, and the overall atmosphere at the event was great.

We heard from The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, about the digital transformation of the UK Government (you can read his speech here). We also heard from his counterpart in the French government, Thierry Mandon, who gave the French perspective. Martha Lane-Fox was interviewed and we also heard from the Prime Minister's digital advisor, Baroness Shields.

Following the break there was a panel session discussion on digital transformation in government and business internationally - at the end of which Estonia came out as the place to be! The afternoon finished off with presentations from Tim O'Reilly and Mike Bracken, Executive Director of Digital for the UK Government.

Mike explained that the challenge for the next few years for a truly digital government will be to develop systems and functionality for cross-Government use. This struck a chord for me as this is close to the vision that exists for IPT and the IIAS.

Mike didn't explicitly mention the financial pressure digital programmes face, but they are real in the current financial climate. The danger is that programmes are constrained in their delivery, and do not exploit the opportunities identified, and that pressure is real. That said, we’re looking for solutions and the collaboration, recycling code and reusing systems where appropriate, that Mike spoke about, could be a step in the right direction.

Sprint 15 got me thinking that, as operational transformers, using digital technology in government, we need to be able to choose the best technical solutions we can in order to deliver benefits to our users. In our case, our users are initially across the Home Office. But our vision is bigger, and this could potentially be followed by the wider Government family. IIAS has the ability to reach even further - sharing access to the "big data pot" has the potential to give landlords a checking service; employers a right to work check or the NHS information around health surcharges..

Our hope is that the vision, both here at the Home Office and as expressed on the stage at Sprint 15, remains strong and we can deliver a Government as a platform for the benefit of users both inside and outside of the civil service.

You can learn more about how Stephen's team has been working with the Digital Transformation Programme here.

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