Scottish Government struggling to realize digital ambition

Two years ago the Scottish Government published a laudable, inspiring vision and ambition to develop Scotland into a world leading digital nation.

However as Audit Scotland reports today, they are struggling to translate this vision into reality. The report begins:

The Scottish Government has not yet shown the strategic leadership necessary to meet its ambition

In summary the main issues and recommendations are:

  • Incomplete financial oversight – There is not a complete handle on how much investment is required across the board to achieve the goals. More robust assurance programs like those proposed by Audit Scotland should be implemented.
  • Incomplete progress ownership and monitoring – There are many defined goals that have no owner or reports on progress. As such gaps and how to address them are not being identified. Joint action plans should be developed across the public sector to take ownership of unattended projects.
  • No strategic collaboration – There is no executive level, cross-sector strategic forum specifically for digital and the Scottish Government needs to do more to understand and learn from what other governments around the world are doing. Better collaboration with the commercial sector is also needed and better use of collaborative, Cloud technologies.
  • Skills shortage – There is a shortage of key skills in areas like software and web development, commercial support, cloud computing, cybersecurity and data science. The government is struggling to offer employment that is competitive with the commercial sector and needs to develop a more complete picture of future requirements.
  • Government as a Platform – While the government has ambitions for a GaaP approach, they lack a complete understanding of the systems currently in effect that could be standardized this way. Better collaboration between different initiatives to identify these commonalities such as Digital Identity and Social Security is needed.
  • Technology innovation – Scottish Government needs to develop a more innovative culture and accelerate adoption of key technologies. For example currently it is not leading by example in the use of cloud technologies, a key part of its strategy, and innovation building programs like CivTech are still on a small scale and should be significantly expanded.

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