Digital First – a new approach to online services in Wales

Economy Minister Edwina Hart today announced a new approach to delivering public services online in Wales and emphasised that Digital First will be firmly focused on the needs of the people of Wales.

The Minister said :

“Digital First will first and foremost be about delivering public services that are focused on the needs of the citizen. We want to make it much easier for people to find and use public services – at any time and on any device. This will remove barriers, create choice and make life simpler for people.“


“This will not be Digital-by-Default for Wales, but the direction of travel is clear; we must ensure our citizens and businesses are fully equipped to engage in the current and emerging digital world and Digital First will help to achieve that.”

She added that a key underpinning principle will be ensuring that all investment decisions consider the needs of the most disadvantaged families and individuals in order to maximise the social benefits of online services as well as the economic and environmental.

The Minister said the development of a Digital Online Services strategy is a priority and is to be completed by summer 2013 to provide a clear framework for the whole Welsh public sector to follow.

She has asked officials to consider the options for co-ordinating the delivery of digital services, including a new Wales Digital Services body with responsibility for managing the delivery of ICT infrastructure products and services across the entire Welsh public sector. They are expected to report back with proposals in June 2013.

Her statements follow an independent report from the Digital Wales Advisory Network: Digital First – Delivering Welsh Public Services On Line The Minister said the approach recommended in the report is the right one for Wales.

She acknowledged the recommendations have far reaching implications for public sector bodies in Wales and said that working together to get best value for the Welsh pound is even more important in the current financial climate.

“I know there is significant support for a new Wales Digital Services body amongst my Ministerial colleagues as it would present an opportunity to generate savings by consolidating skills and resources that are currently dispersed across many organisations. It would also ensure that information can be shared securely and efficiently between different public sector bodies to improve services to the citizens of Wales.”

The Minister thanked the Chair Simon Gibson and the members of the Digital Wales Advisory Network for preparing such a thorough report and encouraged all public sector bodies in Wales to consider the report and as success will depend on close partnership working and collaboration.

The report which is published today makes the following five principle recommendations:

· The Welsh Government introduces a “Digital First” approach to online services in Wales.

· Ministers make their online service priorities clear and provide direction to stakeholder groups across the public sector.

· The Welsh Government establish a co-ordinating body along the lines of the UK Government’s Digital Services body with responsibility for digital service delivery across the whole of the Welsh public sector.

· The Welsh Government develop an online services strategy that provides a clear framework for the public sector to develop their own tailored plans.

· The public sector must ensure that online services are designed around the needs of users, making it easy and compelling to access and use the services.

The Digital Wales Advisory Network was set up in 2012 to provide Ministers with independent advice on the key issues impacting on the digital ambitions of the Welsh Government