Transforming public services

The digital world is constantly evolving. Our task is to ensure that Scotland's digital public services are high quality, ever improving and meeting the needs of the people who live here.

In March 2021, the Scottish Government and the COSLA launched an updated digital strategy for Scotland: A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world. This outlines what we need to do to make sure we match the pace of change we’re experiencing and why it is necessary for government to rethink how we ‘do digital’.

In line with the Strategy, the vision is of a modern public sector, open to collaboration and transformation. This includes making it easier for people and projects to access shared, high quality digital solutions designed around the people who use them. Organisations in the sector that embrace the vision should strive for sustainability and continuous improvement as they progress their respective digital journeys. 

The Digital Programme

The Digital Programme is an area of work that is improving the way the Scottish public sector does digital. It will address the key challenges of how we deliver on the digital ambitions outlined in the current digital strategy.

The programme changes how colleagues in the public sector think about, design, deliver and maintain digital public services. This will see the introduction of a new operating model and updated ways of working, with a shift away from thinking about what teams do locally and towards a system wide view public-sector view when embarking on new digital transformation projects.

The programme oversees the delivery of:

  • guidance that will help people to build high quality and seamless digital public services, based on user and business needs
  • real time shared data repositories
  • shared platforms and components
  • continuous improvement of digital services
  • services that are predictable and sustainable, and secure for the end user

And includes:

  • a new online information and guidance platform called the Digital Scotland Service Manual that will establish new ways of working for designing services and functions so that they follow user journeys across organisational boundaries. The manual will initially focus on a limited number of content topics:  commercial, design, and accessibility and usability, with more content on architecture, capability and data to be added in 2024.
  • the introduction of a new digital portfolio management process to make sure investment is spent on the most important things
  • the development, deployment and expansion of the use of common components, such as the Cloud platform, ScotAccount, and ScotPayments
  • development of new processes to support the implementation of the proposed changes
  • a culture change to the way we work through digital thinking, with an emphasis on innovation, openness, networking and agility

The audience for the work delivered under the programme covers only organisations that are currently assessed under the Technology Assurance Framework. The only exception to this is Digital Portfolio Management, where the new processes will initially only apply to core Scottish Government and agencies.

Digital Scotland Service Manual

Designed to embed system level thinking at the local level, the Digital Scotland Service Manual (DSSM) will streamline the delivery of consistent and user-friendly digital public services through shared standards, guidance and resources.

The DSSM project is responsible for the coordination of new and updated guidance that will include:

Products to enable delivery of digital transformation:

  • standards via the Digital Scotland Service Standard
  • online guidance via the Digital Scotland Service Manual website
  • tools to help people work more efficiently
  • templates such as business cases, discovery reports and project plans
  • patterns and wireframes to build websites that are consistent and easy to set up
  • shared data repositories

And services to support adapting and adopting products:

  • common components such as Cloud Platform, ScotAccount and ScotPayments
  • access to Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) communities of practice and other networks to share expertise, ideas and collaborate
  • training via the Scottish Digital Academy
  • expert advice and targeted support for projects prioritised as part of a new portfolio management process

Digital Portfolio Management

Scottish Government is adopting a portfolio approach to how we prioritise and approve new digital projects and programmes. It will ensure that digital investment is focused on realising government priority outcomes and optimal value for money across the public sector, and will facilitate the adoption of a new shared digital delivery model.

It will involve a move to relative assessment of value that will remedy personal or localised bias and ensure investment happens where it is needed most. The establishment of a system wide approach, rather a local one will improve reliability, reduce fragmentation and remove duplication by instilling reuse as the norm.

In the initial phase the process will apply to only core Scottish Government and agency projects covered by the Digital Assurance Office assurance process, with an aspiration to extend this to match the wider scope of the programme over time. It will apply to projects that meet the definition of major, with a minimum threshold that is yet to be defined.

Ultimately it will lead to better utilisation of resources such as people and skills to make sure we have the right people, with the right knowledge working on the right things, at the right time.

Digital Commercial Service

The Digital Commercial Service will transform how digital projects are procured and managed, and guides partners in effective ways of engaging the market.

The service is responsible for delivering the commercial element of the Digital programme. This will be supported through the application of common methodology in the Digital Scotland Service Manual, reusable components, effective procurement and industry engagement.

This will lead to a better balance of value for money and quality of outcomes, give people the tools and knowledge they need to deliver strategic digital procurements and policy-driven industry engagement in a professional manner, and promote continuous improvements in ways of working.

Digital publishing services

Support to design and build digital products

The Design System is home to all the components, patterns and styles for designing public sector products, and the Design System team can help design, test and build a digital product.

Publish information about your service

The website is the gateway for the people of Scotland to find information about and access to the services that can support them. The team work with teams across the public sector to create content which helps meet the needs of the people of Scotland.

Cloud Platform Service

The Cloud Platform Service accelerates the adoption of modern cloud technology in the Scottish public sector, making services secure, sustainable and cost-effective. Using the platform speeds up development, provides access to discounts and prevents duplication of effort. 


ScotPayments is a payments service being designed and built to support the digital transformation of payments across government and the wider public sector.

It has a long-term vision to design, build and manage a common, consistent and reliable payments service built on a single payments platform. Beta partner, Independent Living Fund Scotland have now fully onboarded all of their outbound payments to the ScotPayments platform meaning the service now processes multiple grant funds, goods and services, and salaries and expenses. 


ScotAccount is an online service that allows people to sign in to public services in a user-centred and secure way.

It makes accessing services easier and simpler because you can use one account to sign in to a variety of services. People can also verify their identity, if necessary, to apply for a service, e.g. for accessing financial support or to access personal information. Users can also choose to store verified personal information in ScotAccount, so it can be used again when applying for other public services. This makes it easier for users to access services and releases greater value for public services who do not have to repeat these checks.

ScotAccount is a privacy-respecting and user-friendly service, designed to the Digital Scotland Service Standard and Scottish Government privacy and identity principles. It has been designed to act as a reusable set of common components that can be integrated into public services across Scotland.

Digital usability and accessibility support

Digital usability and accessibility provide public sector organisations with digital usability, accessibility support and expert guidance to ensure that the user experience of services is accessible for all. This will help people meet their legal and moral obligations, ensuring that everyone can access online content and services, with equivalent user experiences for disabled people.

Scottish Digital Academy

The Scottish Digital Academy is the public and third sector centre of excellence for digital capability.

The academy supports public service reform and transformation by providing high quality professional learning, advice and guidance to develop digital skills, leadership and talent. The academy is the supporting function for the Scottish Government Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) profession and is developing a series of workstreams to build capability as part of the Digital Programme.

Once for Scotland

Once for Scotland (OfS) is a public sector forum designed to break down barriers and encourage collaboration and cross sector working. It has over 120 member organisations and this continues to grow.

The forum meets once a month delivering a varied member driven agenda that can include:

  • showcase sessions: highlighting work taking place across the public sector
  • change-maker sessions: with guest speakers presenting on the latest thinking in key areas
  • spotlight sessions: where vendors introduce new areas of innovation and emergent approaches
  • challenge sessions: where members of the forum can introduce challenges for discussion and support

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