Publication - Strategy/plan

Scotland's Digital Future - Delivery of Public Services

Published: 19 Sep 2012

Scotland's national digital public services strategy and action plan.

Scotland's Digital Future - Delivery of Public Services
Section Six: How we will do it

Section Six: How we will do it

The previous section set out the principles to which the public sector partners to this strategy will adhere and summarised the actions that we will pursue.

This section sets out in more detail the considerations and actions that will be taken at national level in order to support and deliver on those principles. The detailed project arrangements, timelines and milestones for delivery of these actions are set out in the form of an Action Plan at Annex B.

Citizen Focus

Identity Assurance and Authentication

To deliver digital public services providers, in many cases, need to be sure of users' identity. This is the case where, for example, services with a monetary value are being provided, where a transaction is taking place or before any information is shared. It helps users if this can occur as simply as possible with a user having their identity verified once and using one system of authentication ( e.g. password access) to access multiple services from different public service providers. Users also need to be sure that personal information provided for identity assurance is no more than is necessary for this purpose and is handled in a secure manner. The Scottish Government will therefore develop, with public sector partners, a Scottish Public Sector Identity Strategy that takes account of existing approaches in Scotland, approaches being developed in the UK and USA, and private sector practice.

The Scottish Government has funded, as part of the Customer First Programme, the Citizen Account. A range of information is used to verify identity and set up an account, that can then provide access to a range of services, but without sharing information on service use between providers unless with consent. This Citizen Account system messages between existing data sets, it consciously avoids the creation of a large single integrated data set. Furthermore, it allows account holders to inspect and correct their own data. The Citizen Account supports the National Entitlement Card that is used for concessionary travel in all local authority areas, and which also provides access to other services in some local authority areas. Customer First also supports the Young Scot card.

A view from the ICT industry

There will be many new needs for identity assurance as digital services increase. In developing our Identity Strategy we will have regard to Customer First's assets of process and data and the particular needs of different sectors and services. For example, the further and higher education sector has well established systems for authentication ( e.g. enabling access to research and study resources), which is based on the UK Access Management Federation for Learning and Research. We will also consider how far a link with authentication under Glow is desirable.

We will also have regard to the approach of the UK and USA governments who are seeking to stimulate and set a framework for a competitive market in this area where market players would be accredited to provide ID assurance. In addition, the EU is seeking to provide for cross border authentication through regulations that would repeal the existing E-Signatures Directive.

Our priorities will be to support the requirements of providers who use models currently in place, to meet new needs, to provide a seamless transition to any new approach and to go forward in a way that is both trusted by users and cost-effective.

Single point of entry to services and service design for digital delivery

The Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver in 2013 a single – but not exclusive – point of entry to all digital public services at national and local level, giving people in Scotland a clear view of the services available to them, no matter which organisation provides them. We want to simplify the experience of public services and ensure that citizens who do not know where to go to find information or transact with a public service can do so confidently. This will also be relevant for those who use internet search to find services, because a single point of entry will often appear more prominently within search engine results, particularly in the case of smaller public sector websites.

This single point of entry must be a trusted route to public services and it will be developed with public sector partners. As well as a point of entry it offers the opportunity for:

Case Study: DirectScot Prototype

The Scottish Government has already developed a prototype, DirectScot (, that makes use of powerful search technology and adopts a 'device neutral' approach, meaning users can access services in a way that they choose, be that a computer, smartphone, tablet or other device.

The prototype was launched in December 2011, followed by a consultation exercise in the first part of 2012 which received 87% support.

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  • a simpler user experience through common design standards for digital services
  • greater and more consistent application of accessibility standards
  • greater consistency in how the public sector presents public service information
  • efficiency savings for central government through the rationalisation of large numbers of government run websites
  • opportunities for greater collaboration across the Scottish public sector, and cost savings, through the development of common technologies and standards
    to support service redesign

Case Study: Councils using data to cut fraud and raise revenue

Councils across Scotland are making better use of the information they hold to identify households with a true entitlement to council tax single person discount ( SPD). By cross-referencing applications for the discount with its commercial partner's range of up-to-date data sources, used in combination to create a picture of the residency make-up at each address, City of Edinburgh Council was able to collect an additional £1.25m in 2007/2008

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The Scottish Government is developing plans to take this prototype to a full web service. Scottish Government will engage widely with users and the Scottish public sector to ensure this development meets needs – including alignment with the Scottish Business Portal. The business portal, managed by Scottish Enterprise with local government, is being redesigned for launch in November 2012 and we therefore have the opportunity for a co-ordinated approach to user experience and content.

Privacy and Openness: using data appropriately

We will continue to review and adopt information principles and standards drawn up at UK, European and international levels, taking account of the needs of service providers and businesses to operate within these wider environments.

The Scottish Government will:

  • consult on and review our Data Sharing: Legal Guidance for the Scottish Public Sector [7] to ensure that it is current and serves our ambitions
  • establish a collaborative Data Linkage Framework to ensure that research and statistical analysis can be conducted safely, securely, legally, ethically and efficiently using identifying and operational data that is appropriately anonymised and protected
  • publish a programme of how we plan to increase transparency through the availability of reusable
    public data
  • ensure that our public sector single point of entry directs those who are interested to Scottish public sector data that is available for re-use

A Skilled and Empowered Workforce

Our workforce is a vital part of our ambitions for Digital Public Services and we will collaborate to identify the key skills and capabilities required within our public sector workforce to deliver on the national and sectoral strategies. In addition to collaboration within sectors this will identify any additional opportunities for cross sectoral training
and development to support common needs. This will be a part of wider approach to development of the public sector workforce.

Our ICT workforce has responded to a range of new technology opportunities across the public sector. Our ambitions for digital public services will provide new challenges. We are examining in more detail the baseline of existing skills and capacity. We will undertake a future proofing exercise with the ICT industry so that we can put in place a plan for our staff to develop the skills of the future.

We will work initially within sectors to identify opportunities both for sharing ICT workforce capacity and for training and development of ICT staff. We will also explore cross-sector collaboration for specialist and expert skills required to deliver on major transformation, and seek to address any barriers to collaboration. We will explore the option of a Centre of Expertise to share approaches to developing the key skills that can be deployed to support and accelerate our Digital Public Services ambitions.

Collaboration and Value For Money

Our principles confirm that the public sector should re-use first, then buy, and build only as a last resort – with collaboration being the first option in all that we do. Our actions will deliver on this.

High-Level ICT Operating Framework

Our cross-public sector Technical and Design Board, supported by the ICT Industry Board, will develop a High-Level ICT Operating Framework which supports this strategy taking account of needs where organisations operate within a UK context. This national framework will support transformation through:

  • providing a set of architecture and design principles
  • promoting and supporting the use of commonly agreed standards and specifications
  • an information assurance approach

The collaboration and integration that this will support, with a focus on re-use before buy, will help to eliminate duplication and avoidable spend. The development and adoption of this framework will be led through our national and sectoral governance arrangements.

Scottish Wide-Area Network

We will secure a Scottish Wide-Area network ( SWAN) by May 2014 that will deliver, amongst other things, a single, holistic telecommunications network service open for the use of any, and potentially, all public sector organisations within Scotland.

SWAN will replace the existing approach where each public sector organisation designs, develops, delivers and maintains their individual network. As well as reducing procurement and operational costs, SWAN will open opportunities for information sharing and local and national participation and collaboration. A new partnership of vanguard organisations has been established to aggregate demand for shared services and will procure the initial services. Individual organisations will then be expected to utilise the resulting network services as and when their existing contracts run out, unless the service cannot meet their needs.

The SWAN will be delivered as a single network for the whole of the Scottish public sector – an 'Internet for Government'. This single network will allow individual, shared and 'cloud' services to be offered. The approach will provide the logical segregation of each organisation's data based upon technical standards approved for this type of use by CESG – the UK national authority on information assurance and security.

SWAN services will fall into two main categories: network Services – including network connectivity services, security, hosting and gateway services and Application Services – such as voice, video, collaboration, messaging and email. The range of services and minimum set of standards will be defined as part of the SWAN programme.

New Approach to Procurement

We launched Public Contracts Scotland ( PCS) in July 2008 to provide businesses with easy access to contract opportunities. Over 400 public bodies are placing their contract opportunities on PCS in a standard format and over 60,000 users are registered. Three-quarters of all firms that win contracts advertised on Public Contracts Scotland are small-medium enterprises ( SMEs), and over 60% are both Scottish and SMEs. Our procurement information hub shows that whilst SMEs account for only 37% of Scotland's turnover, 45%, or over £4bn, of Scotland's £9bn procurement spend goes directly to SMEs, with around £2bn of that going directly to firms with fewer than 50 employees. This is the third highest level of spending with SMEs, relative to their contribution to the economy, in Europe.

Building on this, and utilising the introduction of the Procurement Reform Bill, we will work in partnership with sectoral centres of procurement expertise to:

  • maximise value from existing national procurement frameworks and explore opportunities for new national frameworks and contracts
  • measure the savings achieved across the public sector through the use of procurement frameworks and contracts
  • support the development of a joined-up approach to buying technology, where it supports public service delivery
  • encourage sustainability, innovation and growth and make better use of public procurement to promote jobs and training opportunities
  • make it easier for Scottish SMEs to access public sector contracts by improving and standardising procurement process, whilst encouraging public bodies to consider the economic impact of their procurement activities

This will deliver the right balance between cost, quality and sustainability to ensure value for money. We will utilise the introduction of the Procurement Reform Bill to encourage sustainability, innovation and growth and make better use of public procurement to promote jobs and training opportunities. We will make it easier for Scottish SME's to access public sector contracts by improving and standardising procurement process, while encouraging public bodies to consider the economic impact of their procurement activities. This will build on progress to date.

National Approach to Data Storage

We will develop a national plan by March 2013 to consolidate and re-use the world-class data centres available in the public and private sectors across Scotland at national and sectoral level. We will build upon existing [8] levels of capacity sharing across public sector data centres and exploit opportunities for further sharing including learning from approaches such as the JANET brokerage service. This plan will ensure that our storage, use and sharing of data meets world-class standards and supports tackling climate change by reducing the amount of energy used.

Case Study: Making Justice Work

The 'Justice Data Hub', intelligently matches information from the Scottish Prison Service (about people who are in prison) and the Scottish Court Service (about people who are due at each court). Before the system was introduced around 10% of cases where the accused was in prison, they failed to appear in court, as prison staff were not alerted. The Hub cost around £0.25m and has the potential to save between £3.5m and £6m per year.

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Open Source

Open source software is computer software where the underlying source code is made available under an open source licence. This can allow individuals and organisations to reuse the software created by others therefore promoting collaboration.

We will explore the benefits of providing and using open source solutions with a view to refreshing the open source strategy for the Scottish public sector. We will set out a clear set of principles to ensure the public sector has an understanding of the advantages of open source material and, through common standards, the ability to share innovative solutions.

Create an Agreed Measurements and Benefits Framework

In developing this strategy, we have engaged with stakeholders to determine what we currently measure, ensuring that we learn from benchmarking clubs, and map this against priority action. Using this information, we have mapped the business change (outcomes) with the enablers (project outputs and actions) to determine the overall benefits map. This will ensure we establish a common set of quantitative measures that support our overall framework for delivery and develop qualitative measures, as our digital public services priorities develop, to measure improvement in citizen experience and value for money.

Our framework will be in the form of a benefits scorecard which will address the following in terms of digital public services:

  • are we meeting the needs of our citizens and business?
  • are we achieving financial and carbon savings?
  • are we enabling joined-up public services?
  • are we developing the workforce to deliver on our ambitions?

We will publish the framework and provide guidance to sectors on its use so they may report progress on an annual basis.