Francis Maude – 2014 Speech on Public Service Reform

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, in Dubai on 10th February 2014.


It’s a pleasure to be back in the Gulf among friends.

I was here in Dubai in October last year for the GITEX conference to discuss the digital revolution – from the opportunities of big data to the challenges of cyber security.

This time around we’re talking about the future of government services – digital technology is an absolutely crucial part of this, although there are many other ingredients too.

In the UK, public sector reform has been an immediate response to the urgent need to reduce the national deficit. But there is a greater prize at stake – the opportunity to create 21st century services: cost-effective and sustainable for the future, but also faster and more responsive to people’s needs.

Of course no 2 countries have exactly the same experience. But around the world governments are facing similar challenges: squeezed budgets, rising expectations, low growth. So we need a new paradigm for government services. One that delivers better services focused on user need, at much lower cost, in a way that supports economic growth.

It gives governments a clear choice. Indiscriminate salami-sliced cuts to front line services; the soft option path of least resistance. Simpler for the bureaucrat, who doesn’t have to face the political consequences of service cuts. But the second – the high road – of cutting government’s own costs and driving innovation and change – is the way to go.

That’s what we did in the UK. It’s tough. It’s means unrelenting hard practical work. But it can bring about lasting change.

All round the world I’ve seen governments wrestling with the same problems.

I’ve seen how Singapore’s Public Service 21 programme encourages staff to question assumptions and seek new ways of doing things. I visited India too, and saw how they recognised the importance of improving their civil service through training.

And I’ve seen how countries like Estonia and South Korea are leading the way in digital.

I was particularly taken with the Korean phrase “Bali-bali”, meaning “quick! quick!” – surely a phrase that’s stamped across the heart of anyone in politics? Certainly one that my own long-suffering staff have had to learn to live with!

The UK has a long history of cooperation, friendship and open dialogue with our Gulf partners. And while there is no single formula for success – especially in a region with distinct cultures and differing political systems – there is still much we can learn from each other about the future of government.

So today I’m going to speak about 5 principles that characterise the UK’s approach to public service reform since the coalition government was formed in 2010.

I stress that we did not start with these principles. We started not with the theory but with the practice of making changes to test what worked and what didn’t. These principles are distilled from that practice and that experience. They’re pragmatic, not ideological. I think they can be of widespread application, for governments of all origins, whether right, centre or left. We all face the same challenges and we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

Open government

The first principle of public service reform is openness.

Using transparency and open data to bring about continuous improvement can help governments to address rising public demands and the challenges of austerity.

This won’t always be comfortable. In fact transparency can be extremely uncomfortable – open data exposes waste and taxpayers are able to see exactly how their money is spent.

But this sharpens accountability and informs choice over public services. And combined with ever increasing technological capability, it will ultimately create more accountable, efficient and effective governments.

Open data is also a raw material for economic growth – supporting the creation of new markets, businesses and jobs.

In the UK we have committed to enhance the scope, breadth and usability of published contractual data which will help stimulate greater diversity in government suppliers.

And last year, G8 governments came together under the UK Presidency to agree a landmark Open Data Charter. This sets principles for the release and re-use of data and for its accessibility. Having these principles on openness is a critical element in encouraging growth and ensuring consistency, helping governments and businesses to operate more closely together.

Transparency is an idea whose time has come. And it is the friend of the reformer. Governments that work with it, and go with the grain, will be stronger for it.

Tight centralised control

My second principle is that tight control from the centre over common activities – like property, IT, procurement, management information, and oversight of major projects – reduces costs and encourages collaborative working.

Back in 2010, when the coalition government was formed, the UK was spending £4 for every £3 it raised in taxes. Billions of pounds got frittered away on wasteful consultancy, superfluous advertising and disastrous projects. And no effort was made to get to grips with the millions lost every year to fraud, error and debt.

Many of the fundamental components of efficient management and effective oversight had been conspicuous by their absence.

So within days of coming to office we introduced tough spending controls on discretionary spend in central departments.

Immediately we started renegotiating contracts with our biggest suppliers – dealing with them as a single customer instead of letting them play one part of government off against another.

We have also reduced the size of the civil service by more than 15% which allowed us to cut the cost of the government estate by vacating buildings that were no longer needed.

And we created something that had been lacking in government for too long – a strong corporate centre. Known as the Efficiency and Reform Group it works across artificial departmental boundaries to implement cross government solutions to cross government problems.

It’s about making government work more like the best-run businesses; ensuring every penny of taxpayers money is used to maximum effect.

And as a result of this tough-minded approach, in our first year we saved £3.75 billion, in our second £5.5 billion, £10 billion in our third year.

And in the first half of the current financial year we saved £5.4 billion – 73% more than we had saved at the same point last year.

Loose control

But we need to do much more to balance the books – we need to find new and better ways of working.

So my third principle is that tight control over the centre must be matched by looser control over operations.

Spin-outs and services commissioned outside the public sector should become the norm.

Public service mutuals, joint ventures and charitable enterprise are attractive alternatives to the old binary choice between delivering services in-house or full red-blooded privatisation.

That was a stagnant, rigid and unimaginative model which stifled innovation.

So in the UK we are breaking the public sector monopoly over service provision. We already have around 80 live and trading staff owned mutuals, up from just 9 in 2010, with responsibility for well over £1 billion worth of services – everything from libraries to elderly social care.

They foster a sense of ownership and empowerment. Everyone understands their role. Everyone has an incentive to make it work.

And it frees public sector workers to do their job as they know best – because the people who know best are not politicians or bureaucrats, but those who deliver frontline services day-in, day-out.

When this public service ethos is married to entrepreneurialism it can be an incredibly powerful force.

It’s part of a mindset which elevates the service that the public receives above the structure that delivers it.


My fourth principle is about digital.

If a service can be delivered online, then it should be delivered only online.

This is the approach which is guiding the transformation of 25 of the largest transactional government services in the UK so they are simpler, clearer, faster and – most importantly – designed around the needs of the user.

Every superfluous page, every unnecessary question, is another dead end for an angry, frustrated and confused user.

So by digital by default, we mean creating digital services that are so straightforward that all those who can use them will choose to do so, and those who can’t are given the support they need.

It’s an iterative process – building and testing in small chunks and working quickly to make improvements along the way. The feedback continues – so do the refinements – and over time the services will evolve to keep pace with new demands.

And we can achieve huge cost savings by doing it this way.

In the past, governments seldom – if ever – consulted people about the services they were using. It was a “Big Bang” approach which sent money and expectations hurtling down a black hole.

The first the public would see of a service was when it went live, by which time it would be too late to make any changes if it didn’t work.

But that’s completely the wrong way.

Only when you find out what people want, how they want it delivered and how they intend to use it do you even begin to think about designing the service or building the technology.

And digital public services can also stimulate a generation of world-beating software and service businesses.

By committing to open standards and open source software, governments can create a more open market for IT suppliers, increasing competition, lowering licensing costs and advancing innovation.


I’ve talked about new ways of doing things – new models of delivery, new digital services and a new attitude toward openness and growth.

All this requires the right the skills and culture within the public service, so my fifth principle is innovation.

Public servants must be given the flexibility to try sensible and innovative ideas, rejecting those which don’t work and adopting those that do.

Risk and recklessness are not the same thing – risk, if managed properly, can be pioneering, original and transformative.

And the real error isn’t making a single mistake – new ones are forgivable, repeated ones less so. The real error is never to try anything new in the first place – or to continue doing something that isn’t working.

So we need a culture that is more open and less bureaucratic, focused on the delivery of outcomes rather than the process or the structures.

Where people feel able to challenge – so the status quo receives the same scrutiny as a new idea.

And where public servants are afforded the training and skills they need with the responsibility to do their jobs and to be accountable for what they achieve.

And what sort of skills do I mean?

I’m talking about the commercial skills necessary for public servants to feel confident commissioning services from the private and voluntary sectors.

The digital skills needed to design online services based around user needs.

And the leadership skills necessary to embrace the changes needed to deliver government priorities and projects on time and on budget.

All institutions must keep pace with changing circumstances – the best organisations continually seek to improve themselves.

And in the public sector, success must be measured not in staff numbers or hours worked, or in spreadsheets and emails, but by the answer to the question: “How has my work today helped people?”


Open, tight, loose, digital, innovative.

These are what I believe should be the characteristics of productive, effective and successful governments, now and in future.

But this is a race with no finishing line – we will never be able to say “mission accomplished” or “job done”.

The work of making government more efficient never ends.

Because organisations are either getting better or getting worse. There is no in between, no steady state. If you think you’re staying the same, you are getting worse.

So where the UK has expertise we want to share it – and where we need to improve, we are ready and eager to learn.

And I look forward to our discussions today.

Francis Maude – 2014 Speech on Sprint 14

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, on Sprint 14 on 29th January 2014.

It’s a pleasure to welcome you here today.

I remember how many of us struggled through the snow this time last year to Sprint 13 at the QEII Centre.

Then we set out a bold ambition to make 25 major public services fully digital.

We gave ourselves just 400 working days to deliver this transformation. One year on – 200 working days in – we can reveal some of those digital services for the first time.

This time we’re at the London Film Museum…so perhaps I should subtitle this speech “Close Encounters of the Digital Kind”…or “Honey I Shrunk the Costs.”

In fairness, no one will ever – probably – make a Hollywood film about our work.

People don’t choose to work for government to be famous or rich. They want to make a difference and to contribute to the future of their country.

But actually increasingly our digital agenda is bringing the “wow” factor to how the UK government is viewed especially abroad. We’re showing that it’s possible for government to be at the forefront of innovation.

And we’re showing that it’s possible to make public services better while saving taxpayers’ money – perhaps the holy grail of efficiency.

Today is designed to give you a glimpse of how and why.


When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone he spoke of the icons being so bright and clear that people would want to “lick them right off the screen.”

Well, we didn’t exactly have that in mind when the guys designed the government’s new website, GOV.UK, but the look and feel certainly mattered.

It’s clear, consistent and uncluttered.

That’s why we’re proud it beat off the Shard and the Olympic cauldron to win the coveted – and unsought – Design Museum Award – eat your heart out Thomas Heatherwick.

But design is about more than appearance.

Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s British born designer, put it best when he said:

‘The word design is everything and nothing. We think of design as not just the product’s appearance: it’s what the product is and how it works. The design and the product are inseparable.’

So what does that mean for government?

It means putting users at the heart of public services.

Only when you know what people need, how they want it delivered and how they’ll use it do you even begin to think about building the technology.

It’s a theme that runs through this government – whether ensuring the primacy of patients’ needs in the NHS; or designing education services around the requirements of children and parents.

It’s obvious really – but too easily forgotten when bureaucracies become too large, too powerful or too remote.

So digital by default isn’t about swapping paper or telephone based services for digital ones as an end in itself.

Digital-by-default is a change to the whole way we design and deliver services.

A chance to revolutionise public services in the way that eBay and Amazon have revolutionised the marketplace.

And to renew the relationship between citizens and the state…just as Skype has brought people closer together and Facebook keeps people connected.


That’s not to say previous governments haven’t tried.

Back in 1999, the Modernising Government White Paper proposed that half of government services should be delivered electronically by 2005 and all of them by 2008.

But progress was piecemeal to say the least. The old online – in inverted commas – student loan application process ended by printing out a 30 page form to sign and send off by post.

There’s no good reason for government transactions to be that complex. The airline industry contends with numerous complex regulations. Yet you can cut through them all to book a flight with a few clicks.

So how is it different this time?

It’s about delivery.

We’re changing things by doing them, not by talking about them. We’re the JFDI school of government.

We’ve started with a first wave of 25 exemplars. Our objective is to create digital services that are so good, people choose to use them.

Of course, they’re not going to be perfect first time – nor will they ever be. It’s an iterative process. It doesn’t end when the service goes live. It will evolve. The feedback will continue – and so will the refinements.

And the proof of success is whether people use them or not.

Take the Carer’s Allowance for example.

Already 45% of applicants are using our online beta.

This isn’t the result of an expensive marketing campaign to force people to shift.

The service is good enough that people have chosen to use it – voting with their fingers and mice…

We are here today to show, not to tell.

Ministers and senior officials from several government departments are going to demonstrate 5 of our new digital services.

– registering to vote

– applying for a visa

– Pay-As-You Earn services for employees

– viewing your driving record

– booking prison visits

These are bread-and-butter transactions that people want to be quick and hassle free, at a time of their convenience, not when it’s convenient for the government.

If we get it right – and we are, as you will see in a few minutes – we will make life better for citizens and businesses. And we will change the way people think about how government works.

Our efforts to rationalise the number of government websites is a case in point.

Previously, departments didn’t keep records. No one had a grip on this. Costs were duplicated and government looked and was fragmented.

But the public shouldn’t need to understand where the role of one department ends and another starts to find the information they need. Which is why every ministerial department has been brought together online under GOV.UK.

Now started transitioning the agency and arm’s length body sites.

And yet closing government websites sometimes feels like a nightmarish game of splat-the-rat. As soon as you knock one website on the head, another pops out somewhere else.

The number keeps going on up as fast and we close them!

Later this week, we will publish our latest quarterly update. Although 19 websites have closed and a further 18 sites have transitioned to GOV.UK since the last update in October, the total number of open central government websites that we’re aware of has risen to 455 – 15 more than the previous report!

There’s absolutely no reason for every single bit of government to have its own unique web presence. So we’re going to press on.

Nearly 300 government websites will migrate to GOV.UK over the coming year. Over a third (111) of these have already moved, but we must finish the remainder, bringing together government information and services in one place, with lower costs and consistent standards and simplicity for the user.

Deficit reduction

Many of you here today have been working to deliver these kinds of transformations.

And there is an adrenaline that comes from doing things differently. So you can take real encouragement and motivation from being part of this.

We can also be proud that digital is one of the major contributions to reducing the deficit and encouraging growth in the British economy.

As the Chancellor highlighted recently, every part of the public sector will continue to need to face up to the challenge of reduced budgets for some time to come.

And we know much more money can be saved – staggering savings potentially – while actually improving quality online.

Last year we saved the taxpayer over £500 million by stopping projects not aligned to our IT spending controls. Digitalising public services could save citizens, the Exchequer and businesses £1.2 billion over the course of this parliament, rising to an estimated £1.7 billion each year after 2015.

The cost of digital transactions is lower for a start – not just a little bit lower, but a lot.

– 20 times lower than over the phone

– 30 times lower than by post

– and 50 times lower than face-to-face

But we’re also changing our whole approach to procuring and running IT.

Previously, the UK government spent more on IT than any other country in Europe except Switzerland, although I think that included the cost of CERN. They were looking for the God Particle – but over here, we were left with an ungodly mess.

In the old world, we were procuring programmes before they had been designed – or over such a long period of time that the technology was out of date before it was delivered.

To re-visit the film metaphor: we were promised “It’s a Wonderful Life”, charged a “Fist Full of Dollars” – and then a “Few Dollars More” – but we were left with “Titanic”.

For too long, big IT and big failures have stalked government. Now we want to see a new world, a start-up world, where what you can do matters most and where value includes both cost and quality.

At the time of the last General Election just 6% of central government procurement spend was with SMEs and government did not even monitor who its suppliers were.

We’ve stripped out unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork and ensured a level-playing field for all businesses. Now direct spend with SMEs is up above 10% and we are spending a further 9% indirectly. That’s good news for SMEs across Britain but we want to see these numbers grow further.

I am pleased to see Stephen Allott here in the audience today, the Crown Representative for SMEs – he’s done fantastic work in driving the government’s SME agenda forward.

We know the best technology and digital ideas often come from small businesses, but too often in the past they were excluded from government work. There was a sense that if you hired a big multi-national, which everyone knew the name of, you’d never be fired.

We weren’t just missing out on innovation, we were paying top dollar for yesterday’s technology.

One great example of the potential from small businesses was when we retendered a hosting contract. The incumbent big supplier bid £4 million; a UK-based small business offered to do it for £60,000. We saved taxpayers 98.5%.

I don’t think we can make savings of that scale everywhere but hard-working people expect us to try as hard as we possibly can. We’ve published our IT red lines which I will be unashamedly militant about enforcing:

– no IT contracts will be allowed to exceed £100 million without a powerful reason

– hosting contracts will not last for more than 2 years –the cost of hosting halves every 18 months, why commit to a longer contract?

– there will be no automatic contract extensions without a compelling case

– and companies with a contract for service provision will not be allowed to provide system integration in the same part of government; there is a conflict of interest here, and contracts are too opaque

The whole point is for Whitehall to look beyond the oligopoly IT suppliers – the legacy technology giants.

We want the right technology at the right price for taxpayers – whether that’s from an innovative big supplier which gets the new ways of working with us, or a start-up.

And don’t think British start-ups are all in Tech City. We are seeing clusters springing up right across the country from Northern Ireland to Manchester and Liverpool and Newcastle – this is the future of Britain.

To harness the power of these innovative new companies we’ve created the CloudStore – a whole new concept in IT buying.

An open market where public sector organisations can purchase IT off the shelf. For both government and the companies listed, this means less bureaucracy and less hassle.

The public sector as a whole has already spent more than £78 million through CloudStore. And over half of this – 53% – is going to small and medium-sized firms.

Central government is spending even more with SMEs – two thirds of its purchases on CloudStore, 66%, are going to SMEs.

If we saw as much money going through CloudStore every month as we did this November, the annual spend would be £120 million. That’s a lot of money going through channels specifically designed to be accessible to all businesses, whatever their size.

But we’re not stopping there.

That’s why I’m pleased to set out my ambition today that through the CloudStore and digital services framework we will spend a further £100 million with small businesses offering IT services and technology to government by the next General Election.

SMEs are engines of growth in our economy and this is a massive vote of confidence in the role they are playing to help Britain compete and win in the global race.

Open standards for document formats

Over the past few years we’ve moved away from a small oligopoly of IT suppliers to create a more open market. And yet the software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies.

I want to see a greater range of software used, so people have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular propriety brand. In the first instance, this should help departments to do something as simple as sharing documents with each other more easily.

So we have been talking to users about the problems they face when they read or work with our documents – and we have been inviting ideas on how to solve these challenges.

Today I can announce that we’ve set out the document formats that we propose should be adopted across government – and we’re asking you to tell us what you think about them.

It’s not about banning any one product or imposing an arbitrary list of standards. Our plan, as you would expect, is about going back to the user needs, setting down our preferences and making sure we can choose the software that meets our requirements best.

Technical standards for document formats may not set the pulse racing – it may not sound like the first shot in a revolution. But be in no doubt: the adoption of open standards in government threatens the power of lock-in to propriety vendors yet it will give departments the power to choose what is right for them and the citizens who use their services.

So a combination of open standards and a fairer procurement process can be a winning combination for Britain’s small businesses.


In the last 18 months, numerous foreign delegations – from as far afield as South Korea, Kazakhstan, and the Netherlands – have visited the Government Digital Service in Holborn, keen to learn from their experience.

The New Zealand government is using our open code to build its own version of GOV.UK.

And in October, when the so-called Obamacare website ran into problems, US commentators pointed – in a way that must have been really annoying for them – to the UK’s approach as a better alternative.

Praise for government IT projects is an unfamiliar spectre.

We all live with the experience of the Lasting Power of Attorney Team who had to add a positive feedback button because of the number of comments they were getting.

But I think the closer people look at what we’re doing, the more they will see something special.

So you should feel rightly proud of what you have achieved. We’ve set the bar high – and I have every confidence that you will deliver what you have set out to over the next 200 days.

I’m proud of what all of you have done to set us on this course.

But that’s not the end of it. There are risks.

We can’t slow down. And we can’t have even a glimmer of complacency.

Lots still to do.

The work goes on. Not just to deliver digital-by-default, but more broadly, because making government more efficient and delivering simpler, clearer, faster services is a task that should never end.

Francis Maude – 2013 Speech on Government Property

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, at Admiralty House on 2nd December 2013.


You can tell a lot about a government’s priorities by looking at its buildings.

To think of totalitarian regimes of the past conjures up images of large monotone concrete office blocks. Faceless, uninspiring, conformist – they reflected the bureaucracy of the all-powerful state; political systems that claimed to serve the people, but left little time for individuals.

In the UK, the earliest government buildings were an extension of the Royal Court. It’s no coincidence that the only surviving parts of the original Palace of Whitehall are the Banqueting House and the remains of King Henry VIII’s tennis courts.

It’s said that Henry would rent his tennis courts out to the public when he wasn’t using them – so someone who knew how to maximise the value of government property – and in some ways perhaps a man after my own heart.

Later buildings reflected more of an international outlook as Britain found its place in the world – the India Office down the road, and Admiralty House, where we are now, are cases in point.

Today, the public rightly has little time for excessive grandeur. They expect government buildings to be efficient, effective and to serve the interests of those on the outside as much as those on the inside. So I’m going to talk about our property strategy and I’ll demonstrate the priorities at the heart of this government.

Because through the management of our estate, you can see the kind of government that we are:

– an efficient government – determined to spend the taxpayer’s money with the same care and consideration as we would our own

– a government that’s committed to economic growth – making sure every penny we spend boosts Britain’s competitiveness

– and a reforming government – seeking new and better ways of delivering public services

Let me explain how.


The government is the UK’s largest landowner and the public sector estate is valued at £370 billion – with running costs of £25 billion a year.

So when it came to saving money by making government more efficient, we naturally turned our sights to property management. Departments and their arms-length bodies have traditionally owned and managed their own property. So we found a system that was inconsistent, disjointed and inefficient – duplicated functions where there could have been shared services; fragmentation where there should have been coordination.

Successive governments had taken out expensive new leases, even though freehold space was available and unused. And the taxpayer was picking up the tab for outmoded or vacant buildings.

We established the Government Property Unit (GPU) to be a catalyst for change, with a mission to create an efficient, effective estate that represents value for money.

GPU’s role is certainly about collaboration. But coordinating assets owned by 24 ministerial departments and hundreds of other government organisations is no easy task. So it’s also about providing direction. And that meant equipping them with the necessary tools to steer through change when collaboration alone is insufficient.

Chief among these tools were the tough controls we introduced to stop unnecessary expenditure – and we’re unashamedly militant about enforcing these. Approval is needed for any spend over £100,000 – be it the renewal of lease or exercising a lease break option, a new acquisition or a new build development. These tools worked – enabling rapid downsizing as we withdraw from leasehold properties and concentrate staff in the buildings we actually own.

Just look at the results: we’ve exited 1.81 million square metres of property since May 2010, disposing of 770 freehold assets and raising over £1 billion in capital receipts.

But estate rationalisation is one part of a much wider efficiency programme.

We’ve also been reducing the size of the civil service workforce – it’s fallen by 15% since 2010 – and this saved £2.2 billion on pay and pensions in the last year alone. A smaller workforce has naturally allowed us to make further property reductions. In fact, it becomes a virtuous cycle: 1 department moving creates opportunities for others to do the same.

The building at 1 Horseguards Row – just by St James’s Park – is an impressive example of how departments can share office space. Originally home to HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, it now also houses staff from 5 other ministerial departments and several smaller public bodies – all happily existing side-by-side.

New shared property in Bloomsbury

And today, I’m pleased to announce that the Cabinet Office and Government Property Unit will deliver a new shared property by spring 2014, which will produce savings of £60 million over 10 years.

The 8,000 square metre building in Bloomsbury, vacant since the Insolvency Service moved out in 2010, will now be home to 7 different government agencies – ranging from the Arts Council England to the Immigration Service Commissioner. Although the different organisations have varied roles, all the facilities that can be shared, will be shared – from reception areas and conference suites to cycle stores and first aid.

This kind of project – coordinated, innovative, cost effective – is one of the reasons why GPU’s London Estates Rationalisation Team was presented with the 2013 Award for Excellence in Property Management by the UK Association of Chief Estates Surveyors. In London alone, the GPU has helped reduce the amount of government floor space by around 22% in fewer than 4 years. Overall, space efficiency on the government estate is now less than 12 square metres per full-time employee – down from 13 square metres in 2011.

But there is more to do – much more.

With the support of GPU colleagues, departments are on track to deliver a workplace standard of below 10 square metres per full time equivalent by 2015.

Admittedly some eyebrows were raised when we decided this space standard while sitting in my tennis court sized office. However, we know that similar efficiencies exist in the public sector at large. That’s why GPU has worked with local government authorities to establish 12 local authority pilot areas to seek out the same kinds of efficiencies as we’ve found in central government.

UK growth

But in addition to delivering efficiencies, our other consideration in managing our estate has been to help support businesses and stimulate growth. An iconic scene in the most recent James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ is a perfect example of this. After a tense penultimate scene 007 stands on the rooftop of DECC and pensively takes in the view of Whitehall with its fluttering flags encapsulating the patriotism upon which this string of films is established.

It’s not often that government efficiency leaves you shaken and stirred but this was a great advertisement for the UK film industry and for the ability of the GPU to back British brands. This was a great way to bring in revenue from the government estate – and to support the UK film industry. That’s admittedly one of the more eye-catching examples.

But, quite simply, we want to ensure that every penny of government spending boosts, rather than undermines, Britain’s economy.

Another good example is Admiralty Arch. Once the home to the First Sea Lord, it’s a beautiful building – indeed a landmark. Inside, however, the story was rather different – a series of tired and tatty compartmentalised offices, joined by a rat run of doors and stairs. No longer suited to modern government, it cost £900,000 a year to run and was in urgent need of modernisation.

We could have spent millions bringing it back up to scratch. But we came up with a better solution – a new life as a hotel.

The building will be restored to its former glory; the public will enjoy greater access and the taxpayer gains £60 million through the sale of the leasehold.

And, crucially, in its new guise we’re helping to create jobs in construction and tourism too.

The whole London property market has been a major beneficiary of our approach.

You only have to walk down Victoria Street to see the blaze of redevelopment that’s been made possible by rationalising the government estate – outmoded 1960s-era buildings are being knocked down or refurbished to make way for a range of new commercial and residential uses. The benefits reverberate throughout the supply chain, supporting architects, planning practices, construction firms, suppliers and hauliers alike.

So it’s not surprising that when property consultants Knight Frank examined the impact of government exiting 16 buildings in London, they estimated that local economy received a £3.5 billion boost. Land and property owned by government is a hugely valuable commodity – and particularly important for local communities, keen to unlock the potential for redevelopment.

The GPU is now conducting a Strategic Land Review to identify at least £5 billion of government land and property to be sold between 2015 and 2020.

In particular, we want to help increase the supply of land available for affordable housing.

To date we have released land with capacity for 58,000 homes – and our ambition is to release land to support 100,000 homes by 2015.

But the role played by government doesn’t end at the point of disposal.

We’ve made it a priority to reform how construction is done in the public sector. Yes, to build the schools, hospitals, and roads this country needs – at a good price for the taxpayer – but also to produce a stronger, more competitive construction industry.

The government’s Facilities Management Strategy will be a significant contributor to future efficiency savings.

Similarly, Government Soft Landings, which you will be discussing later this week, will better align the design and construction of government assets with the needs of those who operate and use them.

And Building Information Modelling will be mandated for all central government projects in 2016.

One of the first projects to benefit from this technique was Cookham Wood Prison, where £800,000 was saved by giving the governor, staff and contractors a walkthrough of the 3D model at the design stage so they could suggest changes to suit their needs.


So our policies are delivering savings and supporting growth right here, right now. But what of the future?

Winston Churchill worked from this building when he was First Lord of the Admiralty – during the First World War and again at the start of the Second World War.

Churchill once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter our buildings shape us.”

He was right. And it’s something that has influenced our thinking.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is a case in point. We created GDS with a mission in mind: to build a digital government for the future – providing faster, simpler, better services for the public, at less cost to the taxpayer. From the outset we had a clear idea of the kind of culture that would bring about this transformation: it had to be creative, it had to be innovative and it had to be agile. I’d seen this kind of environment before when I visited IT companies in Silicon Valley.

So we built GDS in their image – deliberately situating it halfway between Whitehall, the traditional heart of government, and Shoreditch, the so-called ‘Digital Roundabout’, home to London’s hi-tech digital and creative firms. And inside, every spare area of surface is covered with post-it notes and charts that staff use to share design ideas and track progress. We want this to be the norm for government workplaces – environments that empower staff to find new and creative ways of delivering public services.

Speaking to civil servants, it’s clear they clamour for better workplaces. That’s why as part of our Civil Service Reform Plan we have launched a programme called ‘The Way We Work’. Property is part of this. But it’s a wider culture change.

Last year, the UK government adopted alternative working patterns to ease the pressure on the London transport system during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We established 500 new alternative work spaces outside London, including an office hub in Croydon. These arrangements were specific to the Games, but we learnt important lessons.

Effective working doesn’t require employees to be at the same desk at the same time every day. It means thinking about the tasks to be achieved and choosing the most appropriate location from which to accompany them, freeing people to work in the most productive way.

Flexible working can bring significant savings by reducing the cost of overtime and extending service hours. But it needs to be managed better, remembering that the needs of the business should always be the first consideration. Decisions must be taken based on the outcome for the organisation rather than just the individual; accommodating employees is great – but it’s actually about unlocking their full potential.

And that requires a culture change, whereby performance is measured not on the basis of how long people are at their desks, but by the quality of their work. So we will be setting out new guidelines on flexible working for civil servants, together with support and training, to ensure it works to the benefit of employees and organisations alike.

And exploiting new technologies will help us carry out more work from alternative locations. So I’m determined to break down the barriers that make cooperation harder and frustrate hard-working, dedicated civil servants wanting to do their best. Top of the list is IT.

All too often, IT at work is worse – and more expensive – than the IT we use at home, when it should be the other way around. It needs to keep employees connected; and it needs to be invisible – you should be able to get on with your work without noticing it. Take it from someone who has experienced more than his fair share of frustration in front of a computer screen – no single workplace reform will improve morale more than better IT.

Another problem is overly-restrictive security arrangements. It’s why we are introducing a new single pass for government buildings. It will reduce time wasted having to escort visiting colleagues and it will help foster a sense of unity – civil servants shouldn’t feel like strangers in government buildings. These are the basic ingredients of better workplaces.

But we know we are behind the curve. Many of our country’s most successful businesses have already ditched their out-dated ways of working. Over the past 3 years Vodafone UK have been implementing their own reforms and the Government Property Unit has been learning from their experience. I was able to see it myself when I visited their Newbury Campus earlier this year – and W4 delegates will be visiting later this week. The evidence is enormously impressive. Vodafone have seen:

– a 30% reduction in their office portfolio

– a 200% increase in occupancy

– and a 20% productivity gain

I’m pleased that 2 UK government departments – the Department for Transport and the Department for Business – are piloting new kinds of workspaces based on the Vodafone model. Transforming the way we work in government has the potential to unlock multiple benefits: efficiency, productivity, cost-effectiveness, better staff morale and better recruitment.

And as work becomes something people do – instead of a place they go – new opportunities will be created to release savings from the public estate. Savings that can be better spent on front line services. And this can’t come soon enough.


In the UK government, we’re proud of what we’ve done so far – but we know we have much further to go. Indeed, the task of making ourselves more efficient is one that never ends. There are always new and better ways of doing things.

So it’s a great pleasure to be hosting this conference. You are the leaders and rising stars of public sector property. I’m sure you have many examples and innovations of your own to share. We are listening – we want to learn – and we look forward to hearing your own national perspectives during the week.

Thank you very much.

Francis Maude – 2013 Speech on Digital Britain, Digital India

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, in New Delhi on 12th September 2013.

Delighted to be in India, and here at the Observer Research Foundation. I have a high regard for Think Tanks, I set one up in the UK that has just celebrated its 10th birthday. And ORF is impressive and vibrant, particularly in its use of evidence in Policy Development.

When David Cameron visited India earlier this year, he spoke passionately of his desire to forge a new special relationship between our countries, and for the UK to become your partner of choice.

So I’m particularly pleased to be speaking here in New Delhi about the UK-India digital partnership, where we are both leading in this field.

Cyber security can sound dark and menacing, but the internet has brought many benefits in terms of social and economic growth. The internet has brought us closer together.

Software developers in Bangalore can sell their products to small businesses in Manchester at the click of a button.

A family in Mumbai can keep in touch with their son or daughter studying at university in Edinburgh through Skype, Facebook and the wonders of social media.

And a cricket fan in Delhi can stream coverage of India batting at Lord’s across the internet – providing the rain holds off.

In vibrant democracies like ours, we can see that an open and stable internet has the power to drive economic and social development.

Our approach has been to maximise the potential for growth, efficiency and creativity, while minimising the threats to people’s security and prosperity.

But because the internet is defined by openness, strong partnerships are essential to this strategy – and we particularly value our relationship with India. You are a country of students, entrepreneurs and innovators, with a growing economy and a strong innovative technology sector. And before long, India will have the largest online populations in the world.

So I’m here today to tell you that where there are opportunities, the UK is open for business.

Where we have expertise, we want to share it.

And where we need to improve our capability, we are ready to learn.

Digital Growth

We want to make the UK one of the easiest and most secure places in the world to do business. So I’m delighted that Indian inward investment in the UK is increasing. Together, we’re building on existing strengths in areas like aerospace, ICT and life sciences. Bangalore-based companies like Infosys and Wipro are major employers. Rolta, Mindtree Consulting, Microland, Sasken, ITC Infotech and Symphony Services are in the UK too – the list could go on and on. And I look forward to visiting many during this visit. And UK firms continue to invest in India-based outsourcing or Indian produced software.

With our economies so tightly connected, we have a strong shared interest in supporting further cooperation in this field. Already the jointly funded UK-India research collaboration has invested £125 million in the last five years, leaving the UK well positioned to be India’s partner of choice in science and research.

And because we know the power of the internet to take a single brilliant idea and propel it into a global phenomenon, our Technology Strategy Board is investing over £1 billion in high-technology sectors. Money which will help commercialise new and emerging technologies, from high value manufacturing and cell therapy, to satellite applications and networked transport systems.

Places like Cambridge and London’s Tech City are already becoming incubators for innovative and creative start-up companies. They thrive because of the high level of government support, availability of quality infrastructure, excellent internet and broadband connectivity. With our background, the UK is well placed to work with government and organisations that are keen to build similar hubs here.

Digital Government

But the internet’s potential extends far beyond economic growth.

It has the power to improve the relationship between citizens and the state, and to change government for the better.

At first glance India and the UK’s demographics are very different: you have a young population; ours is an aging one. But the challenges are the same: increased pressure on infrastructure, rising demand on public services, massive financial constraint. Like you, we’ve had to look for new ways of doing things.

We established an Efficiency and Reform Group to focus government departments on achieving significant savings without impacting frontline services – delivering more for less.

Last financial year this approach contributed to £10bn in efficiency savings, through re-negotiating contracts, cutting projects, procurement reform. Whilst not damaging, and often improving public services.

But to meet our aspiration to save £20bn a year by 2015, we needed to embed this mindset in the DNA of the public sector.

So in parallel, our Civil Service Reform Plan is developing the in-house ability in digital skills, project management and commercial awareness that has too often been lacking in the past.

To support these aims we have made it a priority to bring the workings of the UK government in to the 21st century.

The development of the internet owes much to its private sector pioneers: the innovators and entrepreneurs who acted with speed and weren’t afraid to take risks.

Government, on the other hand, has generally been something a latecomer. And even then, the approach was too rarely dynamic.

For instance, the UK government has over 650 different transactional services, delivering over a billion transactions each year to businesses and citizens.

And yet half of them didn’t offer a digital option at all. And those that did tended to be designed around the needs of the provider, rather than the user.

So the UK Government Digital Strategy sets out a plan for making us digital by default in everything we do.

Just like in Karnataka, where there are now 20 million computerised land ownership records. Or in Andhra Pradesh, where citizens can now complete tax returns and register for passport applications online.

We have started with 25 of the 650 transactions as exemplars, but by 2018 we expect all government services handling over 100,000 transactions a year to be offered in this way: online.

We also launched the award-winning GOV.UK, which swept away a plethora of government websites, replacing them with a new, single domain for all government information and services.

It is simpler, clearer and faster for users – and saves 70% per year in the process.

We are not just building digital components of government – we are building a digital government based on user needs.

And, at the very root of our changes is a commitment to Open Standards – a commitment we share with India.

Both our governments recognise that digital public services can stimulate a generation of world-beating software and service businesses.

Open standards level the playing field for open source and propriety software in government IT, thereby increasing competition, lowering licencing costs and advancing innovation.

In order to get the best deal for the taxpayer, we are also changing the way we buy and run the technology.

In the past, the public sector would embark on large, complex IT projects: consistently delivered late and over budget.

We were procuring programmes before they had been designed – or over such a long period of time that the technology was out of date before it was delivered.

Worse, it would rely on a small pool of large IT suppliers – often locked into impenetrable contracts for years at a time – in a market where the cost of hosting halves every eighteen months.

We priced out the tech SMEs and digital start-ups that were growing up around us, unwittingly excluding the very companies whose innovation could help us get better value for the taxpayer.

We needed an open market, and one way of helping to achieve this was creating the Government CloudStore.

Almost an “eBay for government”, it enables public sector organisations to purchase IT services off the shelf, on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than having to develop their own costly, bespoke systems.

Our CloudFirst policy expects all future hosting to be through the Cloudstore – unless clear exemption criteria are met.

To date there have been over £37 million in sales of IT services through the CloudStore – and 60% of this has been through small and medium sized enterprises.

It’s just one example of how innovation inside the public sector, can be used to support growth in the private sector.

Data is the raw material of the 21st Century, as coal and iron were during the Industrial revolution/ The government has the power to stimulate the IT sector simply through being more transparent.

We’re publishing vast amounts of government information – more than 10,000 datasets to be precise – so they can be used by businesses and other organisations for social and commercial purposes.

And we’ve found the benefits of transparency to be numerous.

Empowering patients to access their medical records online drives up standards in public services.

Publishing annual pay rates for the most senior civil servants helps strengthen institutions and drives accountability.

Quite simply, transparency makes for better government. This is why we are committed to helping other countries enhance and share the benefits of transparency, through our chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership, a multi-national partnership between governments and civil society organisations.

A global effort to make governments better, more effective and more accountable.

Eighteen months on from its launch, the Open Government Partnership has grown to include 60 countries.

India has also made huge strides in open government and – as the world’s largest democracy – there is much we could learn from your experience.

I hope there will be an opportunity to do so during this visit.

Cyber Security

But for people to have confidence in government services, they need to be sure their data is safe. And for the internet to drive economic growth, consumers need to know their money is secure. The UK’s National Audit Office estimates that security breaches now cost the UK economy in the order of £18 to 27bn.

That’s a price we – or any other country for that matter – cannot afford to continue to pay.

India’s losses through cybercrime are currently lower, but be in no doubt that they will increase as your economy continues to grow and to embrace technology and innovation.

In the UK, we are establishing a new National Computer Emergency Response Team – CERT-UK – to improve national co-ordination of cyber incidents and act as a focal point for international sharing of technical information on cyber security.

We have been behind India on this, but look forward to working with CERT-India once our CERT is fully operational. After all, it’s a global problem that requires a global response. Take the London Olympic & Paralympic Games. It faced many threats to its digital infrastructure – but the games organisers, business and the security services worked in unison to defend our networks.

Part of the reason for our success was that we learnt lessons from other global events: from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and from the Commonwealth Games, held here in New Delhi in 2010.

And in turn, officials from the London Games are now advising their counterparts in Brazil to help ensure Rio is equally successful – and equally secure.

This is the pattern for cooperation: lessons shared, expertise pooled, skills and capabilities developed in partnership.

The UK was proud to be the first country to sign a joint communiqué on cyber with India when Foreign Secretary William Hague was here last year. This outlines a basis for cooperation built around a shared vision that places at its heart fundamental freedoms, privacy and the free flow of information in a secure and reliable manner.

We’ve been working hard to make that a reality, but I believe we can become closer still.

Research Councils UK and the Indian Government are working to enable collaborations in areas like cloud security and cryptography, between the best UK and Indian academic researchers.

And today I’m pleased to announce the new Chevening TCS Cyber Policy Scholarship, which is being generously sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services.

This will allow Indian mid-career professionals to take an intensive course at the elite Cranfield University – part of the Defence Academy of the UK – covering cyber security and all related areas of public policy. The UK is home to four universities in the world’s top ten, six in the top 20. A UK education is an investment in long-term employability, which helps explain why 40,000 Indian students are currently studying in the UK.

Many of our universities already have excellent links with their counterparts in India. I believe that building links through education in this way is one of the most effective ways in which our two nations can come together for mutual benefit.

Global Governance

As cyberspace continues to emerge as a new front in international conflicts, we need to find ways to agree principles for moderating state behaviour.

The 2011 London Conference on Cyberspace marked the beginning of a conversation – one we’re proud to have started, but is far from over. London was followed-up last year in Budapest, and the dialogue will continue in Seoul next month. But the centrality of international cooperation to the UK’s approach extends beyond security, to the whole question of how we shape the future of the internet.

The global Internet Governance Forum, born out of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, recognised the pivotal role that the private sector played in the development of the internet.It has ensured that wherever decisions are made the interests of everyone – government, business, civil society – have been taken into account.

A working group under the UN’s Commission on Science and Technology for Development is now examining the mandate agreed at the World Summit on enhanced cooperation to enable governments to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the internet.

We supported the proposal to set up the working group to map and review the extent to which such cooperation takes place. The important thing is to ensure that we do not dilute the characteristics that have made the internet successful so far. We don’t favour a leading role for governments in managing the internet, because – being a government – we know that they work slowly, whereas the internet is changing constantly and quickly. The internet was developed despite government, and not because of it. We don’t want to hold it back.

We continue to support the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance endorsed by the World Summit. The approach must continue to be open, inclusive and interactive.


The UK-India partnership is firmly based on a shared belief that an open internet is the only way to support security and prosperity for all.

Together, we are co-operating through business-to-business tie-ups:

Through public service partnerships.

Through academic collaboration.

And through government-to-government partnership on cyber security.

The internet is only going to get bigger – the threats and opportunities with it. Thankfully, ours is a partnership built to last.

Francis Maude – 2013 Speech on Public Service Reform

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of a speech made by the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, in South Africa on 3rd April 2013.

I’m pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you today, about what I believe will one day be the defining characteristic of future public policy in nations across the world –


This would have been a wild statement to make twenty or even ten years ago.

Transparency was something politicians only used to embrace in Opposition. Or at most in their first twelve months of Government, when they were just exposing their predecessor’s failings. After that enthusiasm would fade.

Traditionally Governments of every time and place haven’t liked releasing information that would let people know exactly what they were up to.

However in the last twenty years something momentous has occurred – the World has opened up. Advances in technology have made data the privilege of the many rather than the few.

And data is a resource – the new raw material of the 21st Century. Its value is in holding Governments to account; creating choices and efficiencies in public services; and inspiring innovation and enterprise that drives growth.

My Government is committed to transparency – it is at the heart of our reforming agenda in the UK-

– And as the current lead chair of the international Open Government Partnership we are promoting transparency as a means to fight corruption and drive prosperity all over the world.

South Africa is of course one of the founding members of the OGP, like the UK, and is a dedicated and active member of the OGP’s Steering Committee; you play a central role in promoting transparency across the rest of Africa.

South Africa recently ranked second for the transparency and accountability of its budget processes, in the latest Open Budget Index Survey – just ahead of the UK in third. I’m certain that our two countries have much to learn from each other – and much to share with the rest of the world.

And I hope today I can provide you with some useful insights into how the UK Government is pushing transparency and Open Data as part of our reforming agenda. And I will also outline our vision for the OGP; what we’re hoping to achieve as chair in these coming months and why we’ll need your support.

But firstly I’d like to give you a bit of context and explain why this agenda is so important to my country.

The UK Government is a reforming Government – by choice and necessity.

Like many nations we are facing huge economic challenges today.

The UK experienced the biggest increase in debt of any major economy in the last decade.

When we came into power the state was spending £4 for every £3 in revenue. The Government was having to borrow £1 in every £4 just to keep the lights on, the pensions paid, teachers in schools, doctors and nurses in hospitals.

Our immediate priority was to tackle the deficit we’d inherited – and earn back Britain’s financial credibility. Three years on and we have made significant progress at putting the nation’s finances on a more stable footing – cutting the deficit by a third.

As a result budgets are tight, and will continue to be tight, across our public sector and there is unprecedented pressure to make the right choices about how public money is spent.

In response, we are implementing a radical programme of economic and public service reform – based on a tight-loose model of Government. This means on one hand you have tight central control over key areas of public spend like procurement, IT, property and marketing – to ensure you drive down costs and get the best value for money.

Make no mistake – implementing tight spending controls across Government hasn’t been easy. But it’s delivering – real cashable efficiencies. In our first ten months in office we saved what was then an unprecedented £3.75 billion from central Government spend. And in the 2011-12 financial year we saved a further £5.5 billion. By 2015 we want to be saving in the order of £20billion a year.

But this is only one half of our agenda – we want to build public services that are cheaper – yes. But also better, more innovative and more catered to the user’s needs.

This means for other areas we are devolving power – the loose part of the model. We are breaking down the traditional central monopoly on providing public services and bringing in more flexibility and choice for users, and more local control over the way they are run.

That means allowing charities, social enterprises, private companies and employee-owned co-operatives to compete to offer people high quality services.

In Britain all of this is a huge change to the way things have been done in the past. And in order for us to deliver the scale of efficiency and reform we need – the whole organisation of Government needs to change too.

Last summer I published a Civil Service Reform Plan that sets out how our Civil Service will become smaller, flatter, faster, more focused on outcome not process, more digital, more unified, more accountable for delivery, more capable, better managed with better performance management and, finally, more fun to work for.

This won’t happen all at once but we are already implementing a number of actions to create a 21st Century Civil Service. For example at the moment despite over 80% of our population being online – people tend to interact with Government on paper, on the phone, or in person, at less convenience to them and more expense to us.

Why? Because our online services are generally either not good enough or non-existent. But this is changing. We are implementing a digital by default agenda that will make it easier for people to do things like pay their car tax, book driving tests, complete tax returns, or apply for their state pension online. And this digital transformation will also generate billions of savings for the taxpayer.

All of these reforms have a running theme: a willingness to embrace new ideas and radical ways of working that put the citizen first. Whether that’s rooting out inefficiencies to save taxpayer money; or encouraging public sector workers to spin out and create their own employee-owned services; or creating more convenient online services.

And underpinning our reforming agenda – is an overriding commitment to transparency.

This has three important benefits. Firstly, transparency drives efficient and accountable Government-

When we first came into office there were huge gaps public spending data. Despite our best efforts, no one could accurately tell us where the money was going –

– And it turned out we were losing billions of pounds to debt, fraud and error every year. We weren’t buying efficiently – consistently handing out gold-plated contracts to big suppliers and shutting out smaller but cost-effective firms. And far too much cash was being thrown away on ill-thought out IT projects, unnecessary consultants and frivolous advertising.

The collection of good quality, accurate, comparable data is now a priority across Government – and we are consistently exposing this data to the light of day.

We have started a regular publication of central department spending data over £25,000 and local government spending over £500. This ensures government, and the way it spends tax money, can be held to account on a day to day basis – not just at election time.

We also publish Quarterly Data Summaries that give a snapshot of how each of our departments is spending its budget, the results it has achieved and how it is deploying its workforce.

Collecting this Management Information – and using it – is extremely important. Resources for our public services will continue to be tight – and we need to clearly see where public money is going and what impact it has, so we can make the right decisions for the future.

Secondly, by exposing what is inadequate – transparency can also drive improvement in public services-

– For example a few years ago a heart surgeon Sir Bruce Keogh made history when he persuaded his colleagues to publish comparable data on their individual clinical outcomes – a global first.

Seven years later dramatic improvements in survival rates were reported – with more than a third of patients living when they might have previously expected to have died in some procedures.

This bold act of professional transparency simply transformed the results of heart surgery in the UK.

Over the last three years my Government has committed to releasing more and more public data to give our citizens real choice over their public services for the first time-

– Our web portal is the largest data resource in the world with over 40,000 data files.

People can scrutinise their local crime statistics; they can compare GP practice performance in handling cancer cases; parents can judge how successful particular schools and colleges are at advancing pupils on to further learning.

Thirdly, transparency drives economic and social growth; by opening up data, that would previously been left under-analysed and under-used, to a new generation of innovative data entrepreneurs.

For example in the UK we are releasing prescribing data by GP practise, which is proving of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry and data and analytics companies working with health data.

We are also helping to improve medical knowledge and practice with world-first linked-data services which will enable healthcare impacts to be tracked across the entire Health Service.

And we are releasing real-time train and bus information to support the development of innovative applications to improve passenger journeys.

And companies large and small are using this data to create innovative, products and applications.

For example a small UK-based firm started using live data from local councils to help drivers identify free car parking spaces. The firm called Parkopedia have grown to become the world’s leading source of parking information covering more than 20 million spaces in 25 countries.

So transparency is not just a grand sounding theory that is, in practise, academic. It really makes a difference in all kinds of ways – from saving lives, to improving public services, to simply making life more convenient.

And across the world transparency is having a huge impact in all kind of ways.

In Mongolia they now publish all their mining contracts that were previously siphoned into the offshore bank accounts of a mafia clique. The result has been increasing investment in education and health.

To support citizen engagement, the Budget department of the Philippine government has committed to releasing a yearly “People’s Budget”, a summarized and layman version of the National Budget and the national budget process.

In Tanzania the government has created a web-based water point mapping system for local government to help them provide better services to their citizens.

And here in South Africa I know you are taking forward a number of commitments:

– Such as enhancing the role of civil society organisations in the budgetary process;

– Developing a Citizen Participation guideline that would ensure that every public sector department had a strong citizen engagement unit for proactively engaging with civil society groups;

– And establishing Service Delivery Improvement Forums where citizens can provide report cards on public service delivery for areas like primary health care, water, sanitation, environmental management.

South Africa is of course absolutely central to the transparency agenda across Africa. I understand one of your priorities as Chair of the Kimberley Process to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, is to improve the transparency of the processes regulating conflict diamonds. This is hugely important work.

One of the UK’s ambitions during its time as chair of the Open Government Partnership is to showcase to the world how transparency and participation drive economic growth, well-being and prosperity.

That means sharing stories of success like these – and also importing and exporting our transparency techniques, lessons learnt and best practise to every corner of the globe.

We’re at the beginning of a global movement towards transparency, you can see many positive examples around the world – but of course there is no room for complacency.

In the year since its launch the OGP has made big strides with 58 members signed up – and of those 46 have published ambitious action plans setting out transparency commitments; and many of the rest will be joining us in London later this month to present their new plans to the OGP Steering Committee.

But after all the enthusiasm and rhetoric of the first year – we’ve got to turn words into action. Otherwise we risk just being a talking shop – where Governments pat themselves on the back for making grand-sounding commitments.

The success or failure of the OGP does not of course hinge on pushing Governments into making big promises on transparency – it hinges on whether they will deliver on their promises.

Genuine transparency will always demand external scrutiny.

And the OGP’s value will lie in supporting domestic reformers within and outside of government to promote transparency – providing them with a lever to help ensure that their voices are amplified and heard at the highest levels.

The loudest voices for transparency have long come from civil society organisations. The involvement of leading Civil Society groups in the OGP is what gives it authority.

But this involvement must translate into something tangible.

This is why the key priority for the UK during our time as Chair is to establish an Independent Reporting Mechanism that will give civil society groups the platform to provide real third party scrutiny to Governments.

This work will be driven by an independent Expert Panel, led as you know by Graca Machel, the former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and Sudanese-born entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim.

We expect the first IRM reports on the 8 founding countries for the OGP – including the UK and South Africa– to be published at our plenary in October next year.

This is a crucial step –

– And it’s important the UK, South Africa and other leading nations really lead by example.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that South Africa makes the OGP a stronger organisation by its membership particularly in the light of your important regional leadership role and as a member of BRICs. Your outreach efforts in particular will continue to be vital.

And by working together and being ambitious – we can establish the OGP as a really credible international organisation that genuinely makes Governments better–

– One that countries around the world will aspire to join-

– And member countries feel compelled to deliver against their action plans.

Of course no one can claim that transparency is easy for Governments – it isn’t. It’s tricky, difficult and often uncomfortable – but it also sticks, once you start you can’t go back.

And with all the challenges we face today – economic challenges, security challenges, climate change – we will increasingly rely on transparency and data sharing to make us more informed, more agile, more efficient.

But as I’ve set out today: the prize for pursuing transparency will be effective, personalised, 21st century democracy; stronger, more sustainable economies and better public services for our citizens. That’s why – the future is Open.

Francis Maude – 2013 Speech on Digital Government

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the speech made by the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on 21st January 2013.

In just two decades, we’ve seen our world completely transformed by the digital revolution – email, online shopping, Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, Twitter, are now essential to our working and social lives.

Globally, over two billion people are online, with billions more set to join them in the next decade.

In the UK the vast majority – 82% – of us are online.

Unsurprisingly, the best entrepreneurs and businesses moved fast to grasp the opportunities of a digital age – these days, British Airways does everything online that isn’t about flying aeroplanes.

In contrast, government took a lot longer to get it. When you think of the benefits of the Digital Age – the plummeting costs of technology; the massive consumer choice; the exciting new innovations – unfortunately, you wouldn’t associate them with government services. In Whitehall, IT suppliers and system integrators have increased their costs. Yet services have remained patchy at best.

People who shop, bank and do their social networking online, interact with government on the phone, in person or on paper, at less convenience to them and at more cost to us. It’s a raw deal for everyone.

This government has made it a priority to bring Whitehall into the 21st century. And as you will see and hear today – the digital transformation of government has begun.

We are catching up with the private sector, with plans to build simple, fast, cost-effective online services that are designed around the user’s needs.

We are also changing the way we procure and run our technology systems – using a wider group of smaller, more innovative and more cost-effective suppliers.

And to ensure that these reforms succeed we are embedding digital expertise into our organisational DNA – building a Civil Service that is digital by default in our skills, style and how we communicate and deliver services.

Digital government

This kind of culture change doesn’t happen overnight. There is no doubt the Digital by Default agenda is a huge challenge – but it is also a huge opportunity.

I don’t need to remind you that we are living in constrained financial times – we’ve cleared a quarter of the huge deficit we inherited in two years, but the job isn’t done yet, and budgets across the public sector will continue to be tight.

At the same time consumer expectations for services are rising and we need to find new, innovative solutions so we can deliver more for less. The digital by default agenda will play a key role in this.

At the moment, government provides more than 650 transactional services serving about 1 billion users per year – but there are only a handful where a large majority of people who could use the online option do so. Half don’t offer a digital option at all – and apart from a handful of services, if there is a digital option few people use it because it’s not sufficiently fast or convenient.

This is clearly inefficient. For some government services, the average cost of a digital transaction is almost 20 times lower than the cost of a telephone transaction, about 30 times lower than the cost of a postal transaction, and about 50 times lower than a face-to-face transaction.

And it’s also a bad deal for customers, who increasingly expect to be able to use services at a time and place that’s convenient for them – digital is not just another channel, it is the delivery choice for this generation.

In the future, like the best businesses, we are committed to delivering services online wherever possible, to cut costs and put our customers in control.

This does not mean we will neglect the people who do not have online access – every single government service will still be available to everyone through our assisted digital programme, which will ensure no one is left behind.

But at the same time we are determined to build fast, clear, simple digital services that are so good that people who are online will choose to use them.

Digital strategy

In November I published a new Government Digital Strategy – an action plan for making us digital by default in everything we do, and departments have since published their own digital strategies setting out how they will transform their services.

This process is being kicked off by the seven main transactional departments – DfT, HMRC, Defra, DWP, BIS, Home Office and MoJ – who handle around 90% of all central government transactions.

Between them they will start work on transforming over 20 exemplar services by April this year, and the new digital services will be fully implemented by March 2015.  By the end of the next Spending Review period (2018), we expect all government services handling over 100,000 transactions a year to be digital by default.

The first wave of services going digital include:

– a new and, for the first time, entirely online tax self-assessment service to make it easier for people doing tax returns

– to make it easier for people to volunteer we are planning a more straightforward online applications process for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

– candidates for the National Apprenticeship Service will be able to search more easily for vacancies and apply online, while employers will be able to advertise vacancies and identify suitable candidates

– and entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes will be able to register, track and manage patents and trade-marks and designs more swiftly and straightforwardly online with the Intellectual Property Office

These plans and many more are showcased today – what links each one is that these services are being redesigned around what users need to get done, not around the ways government want them to do it.

The government’s new single web domain, GOV.UK, which was launched last year, has led the way on this. GOV.UK is simpler, clearer and faster for users looking for government services and information. And it costs taxpayers at least £50 million less per year than the services it replaces.

The Government Digital Service will also be publishing a Digital by Default service standard that will describe what the new digital services must achieve. This will be released in April and from 2014 any service which fails to meet the standard will not be launched.

There is no expectation that this overhaul of the way we work and the services we deliver will be easy – but there are huge benefits. We estimate that by shifting the transactional services offered by central government departments from offline to digital channels we can make £1.2 billion of potential annual savings from now until 2015 and £1.7 billion a year beyond 2015.

Open government

On top of these savings, redesigning our services to be digital by default is also an opportunity to secure greater value for government, by changing how we commission and run our services.

In the past, government’s IT projects were too big, lengthy, risky and complex – plagued by budget overruns, delays and failures. Contracts were consistently awarded to a limited number of very large suppliers on long-term, exclusive contracts.

The result was huge amounts of money spent on government IT – as much as £20 billion a year based on some estimates – but a failure to deliver more digital, cost-effective, user-focused services.

Meanwhile, the UK’s burgeoning digital technology sector and its wide range of highly skilled and innovative companies, including many SMEs, were being shut out of the government procurement market; thanks to the high barriers to entry and complex, expensive and time-consuming bidding processes.

This is changing. We are moving away from legacy IT and our reliance on a few large system integrators. And introducing smaller contracts; shorter terms; a more diverse supplier community that is welcoming to SMEs; open standards; open source; and more use of commodity.

For example, government’s CloudStore, which allows public sector organisations to purchase a range of the best IT services off the shelf on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, rather than having to develop their own systems.

To date, there have been over £4m in sales of IT services through the CloudStore and, encouragingly, 60% of this spend, over £2m, has been with SMEs.

The Digital Strategy further sets out that the Cabinet Office will build on existing procurement reform to develop new commissioning arrangements for digital projects, to encourage a wider range of bidders, including SMEs, and a more competitive marketplace.

Civil service reform

Clearly, momentum is building on this agenda – but we have a lot further to go, and success hinges on us really bringing about a culture change in every corner of Whitehall.

Strong leadership will be essential. Every other industry which has transformed itself to survive and prosper in a digital age, from BA to Barclays, Amazon to M&S, has done so with innovative, entrepreneurial leadership driving those businesses.

I’m pleased to say all departments are now committed to establishing a digital leader with board-level clout to oversee their respective digital transformations. These leaders will need to be bold, pioneering and ready to challenge the status quo.

We are also recruiting skilled, experienced service managers – a new role in the civil service – who will be responsible for the new digital services, and they will be supported by specialist training from GDS.

But we realise we can’t just rely on a few people with specialist digital skills. We need to embed digital skills and awareness and enthusiasm at every level of the Civil Service.

This was a key priority set out in the Civil Service Reform Plan published last summer, and a number of actions are now being taken forward with some individual departments leading the way.

For example, MOJ have established a Digital Services Division to provide services such as strategic advice and specialist design and delivery skills. While BIS is conducting a full audit of departmental digital capability to ensure it has the skills required across the department and its agencies.

We are looking at incorporating digital skills into competencies and personal development plans for civil servants; building digital opportunities into future leaders’ and fast streamers’ development and developing a Civil Service-wide digital awareness programme.

And we are also considering options for digital apprentice schemes to support entry level digital skills within government.

These reforms, once implemented, will all help to build an exceptional 21st century civil service – capable of delivering the 21st century services that this country deserves.


For too long, the public sector lagged behind the private sector when it came to exploiting the opportunities of a Digital Age. Money was pumped into government IT – but this investment failed to deliver more efficient, user-friendly services.

Instead, government IT developed a reputation for big, costly failures.

The good news, as I’ve outlined today, is that this is changing. Thanks to the work of many individuals – including the government’s Digital Advisors from the business world, our UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, and innovative Digital Leaders and civil servants within departments.

We are not where we need to be yet, but we will be – we are opening up to new technologies, innovative ideas and diverse business models for delivering better services for less money.

And, eventually, we are aiming to set a worldwide standard for digital delivery that other governments around the world will aspire to.

That’s our challenge – it will be difficult but it will be worth it. And I want to urge everyone working in government to get on board – be radical, pioneering and ambitious – as we build a digital revolution within Whitehall.

Francis Maude – 1983 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Francis Maude in the House of Commons on 27th October 1983.

I cannot hope to match the rhetoric of the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), who spoke with great passion. I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity in this debate to make my maiden speech. I am not quite the last of the new intake of Members to get off the mark, though the list of those who have not done so is gradually diminishing.

My constituency is more recreated than new. It has been absent from the political map of Great Britain for about 98 years. It disappeared under the hand of the Boundary Commission of 1885. I would be delighted to follow the convention of paying tribute to my predecessors from that time, but, even in the healthy climes of Warwickshire, North, I have not been able to find anyone who remembers them.

Warwickshire, North was created from two previous parliamentary seats—the old seat of Meriden and the old seat of Nuneaton. It has been used to a high standard of parliamentary representation. The old seat of Meriden was one of the most marginal seats in Britain and changed sides politically at each election. It had a series of talented and hard-working Members of Parliament, including my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), my hon. Friend the Member for the new seat of Meriden (Mr. Mills) and, between them, Mr. John Tomlinson, who was my Labour opponent in June. All three of them served their constituencies and the House with distinction. They worked for their constituents most conscientiously and all are remembered in Warwickshire, North with gratitude and affection.

The Member who represented the old Nuneaton constituency, from which I have the town of Bedworth, was Mr. Les Huckfield, who I believe worked hard for his constituents wherever they were. I am sure that he will make his involuntary absence from the House a temporary one.

It is customary to talk about one’s constituency and I find it a pleasure to do so. It is in the area of the west midlands which is precariously balanced between but excluding Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton and Tamworth. It contains a wide range of activities and occupations. There is an example of virtually everything except, I think, deep-sea fishing. There are four flourishing coalmines with industrious and extremely realistic work forces. There are many square miles of extremely efficiently husbanded farmland. There is a multitude of small, specialised and innovative engineering firms, about whose interests I shall have much to say on other occasions. It contains a number of towns and villages which are expanding and which are providing housing for people working in Birmingham and Coventry. All in all, it is a demanding, stimulating and delightful constituency which I am proud to represent.

The Health Service is increasingly perceived not to be short of resources. There is a mismatch between needs and resources. This explains the apparent paradox that there are too many acute hospital beds while there are still long but, I am glad to say, decreasing waiting lists. There are thousands of beds in acute hospitals that are not being used by those who need acute medicinal care.

About 20 years ago provision was made for people not in need of acute care in cottage hospitals, which we now have to call community hospitals. Nursing care was provided with overall medical supervision from general practitioners. In our wisdom, we chose to get rid of them, but they had many advantages. I believe that in future we shall have to look towards that sort of provision if we are to match needs to resources. The cottage hospitals were cheap to run and they were local. That was especially important in rural areas where people wanted to visit elderly relatives in hospital. The fact that they were close to the areas that they served was an enormous advantage. They were small and because of that they were efficient and cheap to run.

The problem is to decide how we shall pay for that sort of hospital. We must look to much more effective management of resources within the Health Service. There are many parts of the service which are overmanned and it is folly to ignore that unfortunate fact. These areas are not overmanned only by ancillary workers. In some parts of the service there is an over-provision of medical resources and, as I have said, we must match resources to needs.

There is a massive inertia built into the present NHS management structure. I served for a short period as a member of a district health authority shortly after the reorganisation of the NHS. It took an extraordinarily long time for any changes to be made. I believe that the fault lay with the system of consensus management which arose in the early 1970s. No one person carried final responsibility for what actually happened. Members of the district management team took it in turns to act as chairman of the team, and that meant that the system had inefficiency built deep into its structure. I am delighted that the Griffiths report recommends the appointment of chief executives and general managers, who will carry the can for the units that they run. This is an essential step if we are to get inefficiency out of the system.

Many part-time members of district health authorities do a good job, but even those with a will to do so have difficulty in rooting out inefficiency. They do not have the time to do so and in many instances management is incapable of providing the information on which they need to act. It came as no surprise to some of us that in the recent review a number of authorities were unable to provide figures and information on the number of people that they employed. If anyone in the private sector tried to run a business in that way, he would not be around for long. It is astonishing that such a situation was allowed to continue for so long. It is a source of delight to me—and it should be to the entire House—that dramatic and radical action is being taken to improve the level of efficiency of management.

There exists an attitude which has fossilised the way in which we view the National Health Service. The idea seems to be propounded by Opposition Members that it is uncaring and uncompassionate even to contemplate the possibility that the Health Service is working at less than full efficiency. It is as though, in allocating money to the Health Service, one puts a label on it saying “NHS”, and then one cannot follow where it goes. One cannot find out how it is spent. One assumes that because it goes to the Health Service it is automatically going to a good cause. One does not improve the Health Service just by pumping in money to make the statistics look better. The Health Service exists to provide a service to patients, and we must make sure that the money goes where it is needed.

It is therefore folly, when a private contractor can provide an ancillary service better than the direct labour force, to set one’s face against it. The right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) made a number of points in his passionate speech about the way in which private contractors can operate. One cannot guarantee that a private contractor will provide a perfect service, any more than one can guarantee that a direct labour force will provide an adequate and efficient service. The difference is that if a private contractor falls down on the job it is possible to replace him immediately. As the privatisation of ancillary services develops, there will be an increasingly large number of firms which are able to take on the work at short notice. There will be competition and efficiency in those important services.

Discussions about the National Health Service have been surrounded for some years by a cloud of muddle and cant. Now we have to tackle the real problem, not so much of shortage of resources as of making sure that the resources we have go where they are needed. That is the challenge for the future, and it is a challenge that the House must face.