Paul Cook is a senior policy adviser for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), leading on digital capability. Paul is blogging for us about his experiences and what the ‘digital by default’ agenda means in a policy making context for HSE.
There’s been a lot of chatter about all things digital across Government, but are we as policy makers taking full advantage of what’s on offer? I picked up this agenda in April, and the work has mushroomed rapidly since! The more I read and speak to people across departments, the more interesting it all gets.
So where do you start on digital? Well, a good place to look is at what others are already doing. After reading the Government's Digital Strategy, I was attracted to a list of departmental reports detailing how others are responding to the call for action. Lots of good ideas on offer here and as my old boss used to say ‘steal with pride’!
But you need to learn to walk before you can run off and start designing new whizzy online tools and products. I first needed to look at our own digital strategy, consider what digital capability we already have in place and to see how good, evidence based open policy making could play into this agenda.
As a result of asking lots of questions based on my newfound knowledge of all things ‘agile’ and ‘open source’, my first job was to help craft a digital strategy geared to delivering health and safety reform, which involves us being much smarter in the way we run our services, delivering ‘better for less’ with digital at the heart of all we do.
HSE have already made some good progress in designing digital services, for example electronic opening up our statistical data on health and safety via our free to use ‘HandS- On’ tool that allows people to tailor the data to suit their specific needs.
However, there is a lot more HSE can do to exploit digital technology to improve our offer. Key to this is the increased capability of our staff to understand how the potential of digital will also lead to new and improved policy options, with the user and digital delivery in mind at the outset.
“Think digital first, it’s not just for the experts,” is my new mantra!
In order to help answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog and help make improvements, I’ve drawn up a project plan to improve capability using an open source tool.
So the following is a list of some of the practical things in my plan that I’ve since done to help get things moving forward. I’ve:
- created a ‘prezi’ so my Director could deliver an eye-catching presentation to set out the digital agenda at a policy conference back in April 14
- developed a short survey for policy teams based around the four levels of digital capability (basic, working level, expert, professional) to get a baseline of current skills from which to measure shift from. See the ‘alpha’ test version of the survey
- set up a new Digital Discovery Group in policy, we now have members who are ‘digital champions’ charged with discovering and trailing new ways of working to learn lessons and passing on best practice to teams
- helped to pilot a new content management system to make web publishing simpler and leaner
We have lots more planned, and will be sharing our progress here on the OPM blog! Sign up for email subscriptions.