Government as a Platform

The Scottish Digital Economy action plan defines a number of goals that would be best achieved through a ‘GaaP’ architecture – Government as a Platform.

For advancing their own Digital Government strategy and capabilities, their action plan advocates:

“Deploy common technologies that can be built and procured once rather than multiple times” and also “Mandate the use of common platforms and infrastructure.”

This is so that the government can “Simplify and standardise ways of working across the public sector so that it becomes easier to use our services and we don’t waste time and money reinventing wheels.”

and also “Create common digital platforms for services that will encourage Scottish public and voluntary sector organisations to innovate in the delivery of public services.”

with specific use cases such as Payments: “Introduce shared technology platforms, starting with common approaches to publishing information, applying for services, and making/receiving payments.”

Platform Business Model

GaaP is one industry-specific implementation of the ‘Platform Business Model‘.

Tim O’Reilly coined the concept in this presentation and documented in this book section, describing how traditional IT for government should become more like Facebook, Twitter and the other Internet pioneers who have been harnessing the evolution of the Cloud to become ‘platforms’, doing so for government would enable a shared infrastructure that enables more rapid digital transformations.

As Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, described in this article one of the biggest cost driving challenges government faces is this duplication across departments, such as the MOJ writing off a £56m project when it discovered the same system was already being developed by the same supplier with the Cabinet Office.

Writing for Computer Weekly Mark Thompson asks ‘What is Government as a Platform and How Can We Achieve it?’

In his Code for America video Tom Loosemore describes the background and philosophy in making it a central design model for GDS, the UK Government’s digital team. Their latest progress update is available from the GDS GaaP blog, detailing adoption case studies such as How the Department of Trade is basing their digital transformation strategy upon the model.