New strategic center on digital, data, and technology in the UK

OSPO Series: A new strategic center in United Kingdom will step into an OSPO role

Published on: 10/02/2021
Last update: 08/05/2021

The brand new ’Central Digital and Data Office’ potentially has a mandate to be the national Open Source Program Office (OSPO) in Great Britain. Open Source is already present in its public sector. Both in the shape of principles and codes of pracitice, but also in the work of NHS.


Open Source plays a role in the British public sector. Both in 'Service Standard' (2019), 'Technology Code of Practice' (2017), and 'Government’s Design Principles' is Open Source mentioned.

In Service Standard (principle 12), Open Source is manatory unless there is a really good reason for using a certain proprietary IT-solution. A reason to go for Open Source is, Service Standard states, that public services are developed with public money and the code bases therefore ought to be publicly available.

Technology Code of Practice (principle 3) states that an Open Source project encourges good documentation practice, well-structured code, clarity about which data must be protected, and pull-requests give increased security and fewer bugs.

The collaborative nature in Open Source is highlighted in Design Principles (principle 10). When more eyes are looking for mistakes, the result will improve. This is also true, it says, in design and for ideas in general.


New strategic center missing now

Until this month, the British govenment has had one central and shared entity for digital, data, and technology called Government Digital Service (GDS). GDS was made to challenge conventional thinking on digitalisation and break down silos.GDS is placed under the Cabinet Office.

In the beginning of this month, however, GDS will be placed under a new public entity; Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO). CEO for OpenUK, Amanda Brock, expressed in January that the implementation of this new strategic center for digital, data, and technology can’t happen fast enough. Because it is missing now!


Mandate to be an OSPO

The Cabinet Office has given CCDO the mandate to be the leading office on the public digital, data, and technology agenda. While GDS to a large degree works with the development of standards, more is excepted of CCDO.

CCDO could take an OSPO role with its mandate and duty to lay out strategies and policy goals. As a consequence of CCDO’s rise, GDS’ focus will be shifted to management of public standards, control of these, and support of the delivery of digital projects.



Final take-aways

  • Open Source is already present in the British public sector, for instance in NHS.
  • Central Digital and Data Office has mandate to be the leading office of data and digital technology.
  • If CDDO acts according to its mandate, it would in practice be an national Open Source Program Office (OSPO)