Scotland's Digital Future: High Level Operating Framework

Guidance and information for public sector organisations on the design principles, standards and specifications of the Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services strategy.

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

This paper has been prepared in response to a commitment made within the strategy Scotland's Digital Future - Delivery of Public Services,[DPS Strategy] within which is the following statement:

We will develop a high-level operating framework which supports the strategic goals of this strategy. 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 reuse 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

This document therefore identifies the guiding architecture principles that underpin the architecture that will be developed to deliver digital public services that achieve:

"public services that are high-quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local needs" (National Outcome 16).

1.2 Vision and Drivers

The Vision as outlined in the DPS Strategy is a key driver and motivation for the practical aims of this Framework.

Our vision for Scotland is a country in which:

  • Digital technology provides a foundation for innovative, integrated public services that cross organisational boundaries and deliver to those in most need, and for services for business that promote growth
  • Digital technology captures patterns of service use and feedback, so that users of public services are more directly involved in service design and improvement
  • This use of digital technologies provides a firm basis for a shared commitment to, and responsibility for, public services

The Scottish Government's ambitions for public service reform requires all public services to drive reform at pace and to prioritise actions around four pillars. The work of the Digital Public Services can provide crucial under-pinning for all of this, in relation to:

  • Prevention - Reduce future demand by preventing problems arising or dealing with them early on. To promote a bias towards prevention, help people understand why this is the right thing to do, the choices it implies, as well as the benefits it can bring
  • Performance - To demonstrate a sharp focus on continuous improvement of the national outcomes, applying reliable improvement methods to ensure that services are consistently well designed, based on the best evidence, and are delivered by the right people to the right people at the right time.
  • People - We need to unlock the full creativity and potential of people at all levels of public service, empowering them to work together in innovative ways. We need to help create ways for people and communities to co-produce services around their skills and networks
  • Partnership - We need to develop local partnership and collaboration, bringing public, third and private sector partners together with communities to deliver shared outcomes that really matter to people

1.3 Audience

The framework outlined in this paper provides guidance to the public sector, and the ICT Industry that works with the public sector, on how to design, develop and deliver future digital public services.

The intended audience for this document is all Chief Executives, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers and Service Leads and can be applied as follows:

  • Chief Executives and Corporate Leads to be aware of the framework and seek assurance from Chief Information Officers/Heads of ICT that re-use, procurement, design, development and implementation are in line with the framework
  • Chief Information Officers and Heads of ICT and Service Leads to make use of the framework and guiding principles in working with strategic and corporate leads to take forward digital initiatives
  • Chief Technology Officers, their team leaders and team members, who will procure, design, develop and implement digital public services to apply the framework

1.4 Governance

The National DPS Strategy defines the framework within which each of the sectors' strategies will align, so this paper is founded on the notion that the set of principles defined will be reviewed, accepted and owned by a cross sector architectural governance board. That board will be responsible for maintaining the overarching principles in line with the changing environment, as well as individually confirming (and sharing) their respective sector principles' alignment. This board will operate under the authority of the National DPS Board. A copy of the Governance structure can be found in Annex A.

The groups that are therefore within scope are:

  • the Scottish Government, its agencies and non-departmental bodies accountable to Ministers
  • NHS Scotland
  • local government
  • the police and fire services and
  • universities and colleges

The Framework in general, and the principles in particular, are intended to be of general application across all sectors. If particular issues arise for a sector, or sectors, this would be referred to the cross sector architectural governance board.

The framework and principles will be reviewed and updated as digital public services priorities develop and as warranted by changing business and technical circumstances. Where changes are applied, the ethos followed when creating these principles should also be applied, regarding each of the above sectors as part of a wider:

Scottish Public Sector ( SPS) 'Enterprise' with a share collection of common goals.

It should be noted that the term 'Enterprise', as used in this context, relates to both the individual organisations within sectors, as well as to the extended enterprise which includes partners, suppliers and customers. [1]

In order to deliver on the National DPS Strategy, a number of specific projects have been identified (e.g. SWAN, Data Centre consolidation, Identity and Authentication). The implementation of this Framework will, similarly, require establishment of specific projects, reflecting cross-sectoral agreement that a national approach is required. In all these cases, the principle of 'use or explain' will be applied, where the expectation is that all relevant bodies will utilise the results of the national project, except where they can identify compelling business needs that require a different approach.

1.5 Scope

1.5.1 Strategic Principles

The SPS Enterprise has set out the following high level principles for the national strategy:

  • Customer/Citizen Focus
    • adopt an approach of "digital first" in service design; that means that organisations will deliver on line everything that can be delivered on line
  • Privacy and openness: using data appropriately
    • Make effective use of all forms of data to deliver business outcomes, within a framework that maintains public confidence and meets statutory requirements
  • A Skilled and Empowered Workforce
    • have a workforce that is motivated and skilled in using digital technologies and gains recognition for doing so
  • Collaboration and Value for Money
    • through common standards and interoperability collaborate locally, nationally and internationally
    • collaborate in planning and procurement of ICT so as to re-use and avoid unnecessary duplication and so reduce purchase and running costs
    • have a public sector network which supports resilient high-volume and high-speed communication

1.5.2 Architecture Principles

This framework provides a collection of architecture principles, which are relevant to those strategic principles and goals, alongside a number of more general principles to:

  • promote following of industry best practice in operational delivery
  • encourage reuse and sharing of existing assets
  • ensure investment in ICT is bought with sharing in mind

1.5.3 Common Reference Model

As Scottish public sector bodies move more towards shared procurement, consumption and delivery of ICT services, a shared definition of technical standards and specification will provide a common vocabulary and context for decision-making and help bodies develop capabilities needed for the future.

This paper must therefore be developed to enable re-use and interoperability across agencies, providing a framework that allows departments to describe ICT capabilities in a way that allows them to be consumed and shared across traditional organisation boundaries.


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