Unlocking the Power of Data in the UK Government: What Does the Future Hold?

Julia Esgate Christmas
June 20, 2023

Trust is the foundation of effective data utilisation within the UK government and wider public sector. Data plays a crucial role in shaping policies and delivering public services. In this blog, we will: 

Utilisation of Data across the UK Public Sector

The utilisation of data across the UK public sector has undergone significant advancements in recent years, particularly after the introduction of the National Data Strategy in 2020. Government departments and agencies have recognised the value of data in improving service delivery, enhancing decision-making processes, and fostering innovation. However, challenges such as data silos and limited sharing hinder collaboration and analysis. Both internal change and support from the private sector are crucial in fully leveraging the potential of data.

Internal Change Versus Private Sector Support

To address common data challenges, a comprehensive approach that combines internal change and private sector support is necessary. Government organisations must prioritise the establishment of data governance frameworks that ensure data quality, security, and accessibility. Breaking down data silos and fostering a culture of collaboration and sharing are fundamental internal changes. Simultaneously, the private sector can contribute expertise, innovative solutions, and advanced technologies to enable effective data utilisation. Public-private partnerships play a vital role in leveraging the strengths of both sectors to collectively tackle common challenges. GovNet Technology events actively sources private sector suppliers who offer solutions to help the public sector find efficiencies, innovate, embed best practice and reduce risk. 

Artificial Intelligence

Algorithmic Transparency and AI Assurance Programme

The algorithmic transparency standard and AI assurance programme have played a significant role in promoting trust in the use of data across the UK government and wider public sector. These initiatives aim to ensure transparency, fairness, and accountability in algorithmic decision-making processes. By providing clear guidelines and mechanisms for auditing algorithms, these standards enhance public understanding and hold public sector organisations accountable. However, continuous monitoring, evaluation, and stakeholder engagement are necessary to further promote these standards and refine transparency practices. 

The OECD Artificial Intelligence Policy Observatory have released a catalogue of Tools and Metrics for trustworthy AI, which you can find here. Once these tools and metrics are integrated into the ongoing AI policy discussions, we can enhance the level of trust in the utilisation of data within artificial intelligence systems.

Achieving Digital Skills at Scale across the UK Workforce

Achieving digital skills at scale within the UK workforce requires comprehensive training and upskilling programs. These initiatives should focus on equipping employees with the necessary digital competencies, including data literacy, data analytics, cybersecurity, and an understanding of AI and machine learning. Integration of digital skills into educational curricula is also essential to prepare the next generation for the demands of the digital age. 

The appetite for training and upskilling programmes is significant, with the Civil Service Digital Skills Survey reporting that over 75% of civil servants would like to receive more digital skills training. To meet this demand, the Central Digital and Data Office have committed to upskill at least 90% of senior civil servants on digital and data essentials, by 2025, through the introduction of the ‘Digital, Data and Technology Essentials’. 

Changes in Skills in the Next Few Years

In the coming years, the skill landscape in the UK workforce is expected to undergo significant changes. Specialised digital skills will become increasingly crucial as technology continues to advance. Roles focused on data analysis, data governance, and AI ethics will gain prominence, particularly within the public sector. Additionally, there will be a growing emphasis on interdisciplinary skills that bridge technical expertise with domain knowledge to enable effective data utilisation and decision-making. Government Data, co-located with GovTech and Quantum Advantage Summit will give attendees opportunities to further improve their digital skills, discover the latest policy updates, and identify best practices to unlocking the power of data from leaders in public sector technology. 

Ultimately, building and sustaining trust in the use of data is crucial within the UK public sector. Through a combination of internal change, private sector support, algorithmic transparency, and AI assurance, the UK can unlock the full potential of data. By investing in digital skills at scale and adapting to the changing skill landscape, the UK workforce can thrive in the data-driven future. 

Discover more about the power of data in the public sector at DigiGov Expo 2024! Taking place 8th - 9th May 2024 at the ExCeL, London - meet with thousands of the public sector DDaT community, completely free for the public sector. Find out more and secure your place here.