Civil service chief Manzoni says Whitehall must 'break down siloes' and share data

Written by Sam Trendall on 12 September 2017 in News
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Cabinet Office perm sec says civil service must work more collaboratively to make digital transformation a reality

John Manzoni claims that there are up to 90 digital transformation projects currently being undertaken across Whitehall. Credit: Cabinet Office

Civil service chief executive John Manzoni has urged Whitehall to break down departmental and disciplinary barriers and improve data sharing data both internally and with the wider world, in order to make the government’s transformation plans a reality.

Speaking at an event in London yesterday, Manzoni – who also serves as permanent secretary for the Cabinet Office – said that progress is being made on the government’s reformation objectives, but there is plenty more to come. He said that it is important for different organisations and job functions to work more closely together.

“We are in a transformation journey across government; we have done a lot, but there is lots more to do,” he said. “Transformation is at the heart of the changes we are trying to put in place. It means breaking down siloes and working more collaboratively, with a more focused approach to sharing data – both within government and with the outside world.”


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Manzoni pointed to services such as GOV.UK’s Notify and Pay as exemplars of successful digital transformation projects. He added that there are “another 80 or 90 examples” of similar initiatives currently being undertaken across government.

“These are really complex changes that we have begun,” he said.

Successfully implementing these changes will require working with the supplier community in a new and more agile way, Manzoni said. The Crown Marketplace – a major new procurement platform currently in development, that takes the Digital Marketplace as its touchstone – will be central to this work.

“We need an interface that is modern, accessible, and dynamic,” Manzoni said. “The Digital Marketplace has been going for a few years, and the Crown marketplace will be another big, transformative change.”

Speaking at the same event, minister for government resilience and efficiency Caroline Nokes expanded on this theme. She stressed her commitment to working with small businesses, citing the importance of making companies’ commercial engagements with the government more open and digitally led.

“If my mission is [about] one thing, it is to make sure we support SMEs,” she said. “We have been attracting the right suppliers, and we are continuing to work hard to diversify [the supplier base] by designing procurement for the digital age. We will make the contracting process… more flexible, digital, and transparent.”

Such openness also extends to working with other countries to help them build and run their own online and agile procurement platforms, Nokes said.

“We can only continue to deliver world-leading services by sharing expertise and leading others,” she added. “We are working closely with Australia, [for example] to support their digital marketplace.”

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeared

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