Scotland's Digital Future: High Level Operating Framework Version 2

Updated guidance for the public sector on the design, development and delivery of future digital public services.

1 Introduction

Scotland's Digital Future - Delivery of Public Services [ DPS Strategy] sets out our aims and ambitions for Digital Public Services across the public sector. These aims are defined in a set of national level actions which are supported by sectoral strategies and local priorities. The strategy confirms our need to move at pace with digital transformation and to ensure that the redesign of services is citizen-focused and fully embraces the principle of re-use, before buy before build.

1.1 Purpose

This High Level Operating Framework (the Framework) has been prepared in response to a commitment made within the strategy that:

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

The initial version of the Framework identified a set of guiding principles and proposed a common architecture approach to the development and delivery of digital public services that achieve:

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

The Framework is intended to provide guidance to the public sector and the ICT Industry that works with the public sector, on the design, development and delivery of future digital public services. It applies to any new or upgraded ICT services designed for use by the public to interact with public sector organisations and to any new or upgraded ICT services those organisations use internally to support their employees to deliver services.

Version 2 of the Framework takes account of progress and developments since the initial version, specifically the National level work programmes for Data Management, Scottish Public Sector Portal (, Scottish Wide Area Network ( SWAN), Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy, Secure and Easy-sign for citizens ( myaccount) as well as incorporating feedback from the sectors as to how the Framework has influenced and may continue to influence the management of change in their respective organisations and sectors.

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 vision for Digital Public Services is aligned with the ambitions for public service reform which requires all public sector organisations to drive reform at pace and to prioritise actions around the 4 pillars of reform i.e. Prevention, Performance, People and Partnership.

1.3 Audience

The Framework 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 of new or upgraded ICT Services 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 including ICT procurement professionals, who will procure, design, develop and implement digital public services to apply the framework
  • ICT Industry Leads and teams who work with public sector organisations to take account of the framework and the standards and principles expected by the public sector in service design and delivery going forward

1.4 Governance

The organisations within the scope of this Framework are:

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

The Framework is intended to be of general application across all sectors and also as far as possible to the third sector especially where they are supporting the direct delivery of public services.

The Framework 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, which considers each of the above sectors to be part of a wider:

"Scottish Public Sector ( SPS) 'Enterprise' with a shared 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

Key to the success of the Framework will be its ability to operate effectively in an environment where all organisations/sectors involved in the delivery of digital public services work together to deliver shared outcomes, whilst recognising that organisations/sectors:

  • May have, in some cases, different business priorities;
  • May be at different levels of maturity in terms of a whole organisation approach (enterprise) to provision of ICT Services;
  • May describe the ICT services used by the organisation in a different way.

A 'federated' approach should be adopted to allow flexibility where appropriate at individual organisation/sector level within a broad framework of control which, over time, will increase the opportunities for collaboration and sharing and simplify the implementation of any new policy or strategy across the Scottish Public Sector.

The National DPS Strategy defines the context within which each of the sectors' strategies will align, so the Framework is founded on the basis that the components defined will be reviewed, accepted and owned by a cross-sector governance board - the Technical & Design Board - which will operate under the authority of the National Level Actions Programme Board. The overall Governance structure can be found in Annex A - Governance and Support Structure and the terms of reference for the Technical & Design Board can be found at Annex B - Terms of Reference for the Technical & Design Board

Members of this board will be responsible for ensuring the Framework content is maintained in line with the changing environment, as well as individually confirming (and sharing) the alignment of their respective sector to it. If particular issues arise for a sector, or sectors, this would be referred to the Technical & Design Board through the appropriate representative member.

Similar to the governance arrangements in place for national level work programmes, implementation of this Framework may identify the need for 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

The Framework consists of a number of inter-related elements as shown in Figure 1 below.

For the purposes of this Framework, the following definitions are used:

Principle - provides high level guidance on the approach to be taken

Standard - provides details on how the approach will work in practice

Figure 1 - Components of the High Level Operating Framework (the Framework)

Figure 1 - Components of the High Level Operating Framework (the Framework)

1.5.1 Principles - Strategic

DPS Strategy sets out a number of strategic principles and their implications for service design and associated ICT services. These principles have been accepted by public sector organisations and incorporated into respective strategies in response to the DPS Strategy. These principles are summarised below:

  • 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 facilitate collaboration at local, national and international levels
    • collaborate in planning and procurement of ICT to re-use, aggregate demand, and avoid unnecessary duplication and so reduce purchase and running costs across the public sector
    • have a public sector network which supports resilient high-volume and high-speed communication

1.5.2 Principles - Architecture

This Framework provides a collection of architecture principles, which are relevant to the 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 made with sharing in mind

1.5.3 Generic Services Model

As Scottish public sector bodies move towards more collaborative procurement, consumption and delivery of ICT services, it is essential to have a common 'vocabulary' to provide context for informed decision-making within and across public sector organisations and to help develop the digital capabilities needed for the future. To allow early identification of opportunities for more collaborative approaches to provision of ICT services at a local, regional, sector or national level, a generic 'model' is required that will be used by all organisations/sectors to categorise and record their organisational/ sector-specific current and planned ICT services and should also be used when describing requirements for any new ICT Services.

1.5.4 Ideal Services Model

Based on the categories defined in the Generic Services Model, a set of indicators describing what an ideal situation might look like for each of the major service categories is provided to allow organisations to assess their current position and to develop a roadmap for change based on their specific circumstances.

1.5.5 Catalogue of Re-usable Components

Using the structure of the Generic Services Model as a guide, a national catalogue would capture and publicise or signpost where appropriate all re-usable ICT services at a national, sectoral or local level. The catalogue would also be the home for all agreed national standards, guidelines and recommendations so that organisations need only go to one source for all related Framework information.

1.5.6 Federated Governance Approach

There will be two levels of governance to support this version of the Framework - a strategic level fulfilled by the Technical & Design Board as described at paragraph 1.4 Governance, and a more tactical level, but just as significant, to be fulfilled by a National Design Authority function described in more detail at Section 6 Federated Governance Approach.

1.5.7 Standards, Guidelines, Recommendations

A number of standards, guidelines and recommendations applicable to all sectors and organisations have been developed since the initial issue of this Framework and these are presented in this version. A process for submitting and approving future national level standards is also provided.

1.5.8 Enabling Actions

A set of enabling actions supports Version 2 of the Framework the contents and successful delivery of which will be governed by the Technical & Design Group. These enabling actions consist of two major types:

  • National Level Actions which are governed as part of other Programmes upon which the Framework depends. This will include any new projects, reflecting cross-sectoral agreement that a national approach is required arising from the operation of the Framework (interdependent national level actions)
  • Actions in support of the deployment of Version 2 of the framework (Framework support actions).

Annex C - Enabling Actions contains details of the enabling actions.


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