With Sprint 14 now behind us, we wanted to share Baroness Martha Lane Fox’s opening speech, and the presentations and workshops given on the day.
Martha used her talk to remind everyone how far we’ve already come in our mission to transform government services – and how hard the work left to do is. If you can’t watch the video you can read a transcript below.
The day then turned to digital public service showcases – demonstrating how transactions like registering to vote, applying for a visa, tacking PAYE for employees, viewing your driving record or organising a prison visit have been transformed into digital services.
Workshops and talks
The parallel discussions were workshop focusing on specific topics – including an online identity panel discussion, a digital capabilities break-out session and a talk by Go ON UK about their work towards making the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.
Tom Read discussed fixing government technology, whilst Raphaelle Heaf lead a discussion on working with suppliers on the new Digital Marketplace in government.
The day concluded with a panel discussion on the topic of challenges and priorities for 2014.
We’ve included presentations from the parallel discussions below for those of you who couldn’t make it, or if you need a refresher:
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(Applause) [0:00:07] Good morning. Can you hear me? Good morning. Last time I came to this building it was for a very, very high-glitz celebrity party and everywhere you turned you bashed into somebody who was on television. I can tell you this room is full of much, much, much more important people right now, so I feel very honoured.
I have a very small brain, as Mike knows, and I can only ever write three or four things on a piece of paper, which is why my report that kicked all of this off was very short [0:00:37] and why I’ve really only got a couple of things to say to you this morning, the first of which is a very heartfelt thank you, properly, a big thank you. It’s only one person saying, “Thank you,” but I’m speaking on behalf of the millions of people that use Government services every day and who have seen a massive leap forward in how easy it is to use them.
I still get a thrill, because I’m slightly tragic, when people say to me, “Did you know that it’s really much easier to look up…?” whatever it is online, your driving licence [0:01:07] or do something. I say, “Yes, I did actually; I think it’s brilliant.” It’s fantastic when I get tweets or I hear from people round the world who cannot believe what GOV.UK has done. I can’t even go near the Design of the Year Award; that was just completely awesome. Thank you; thank you from me but thank you also for all the people who are finding that Government surprises them. That’s quite an extraordinary thing to have achieved.
The second thing, which I’m sure many of you are aware, is that this year is [0:01:37] the 25th anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web. At the risk of sounding like a terrible namedropper, when I was talking to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, in case you didn’t know, and my close personal friend – not really (laughter) – he said to me that… I asked him about this year and what was happening and he said, understandably, that he was a bit embarrassed. He didn’t really want to go there, but the Americans were building him a sort of tribute park and they were doing some enormous thing to say, “Well done for inventing the World Wide Web.”
It [0:02:07] got me thinking and I was thinking, “What the hell are we doing? We are his home country,” so I’ve been on a kind of mission to make sure that the UK recognises Tim’s amazing achievement. Actually when I stand here – and I was thinking about [it] this morning – you guys can help me, because I don’t think there could be a better testament to his invention than Government, one of the most important forces in UK society and economy, embracing the Web in the way that he wanted, making it open, making it [0:02:37] inclusive, making it transparent, making it available to all people at the best possible quality.
It’s in your gift to continue what Tim started. What an incredible position to be in, to be able to lead the world in how Government thinks about the delivery of its services, going back to that original spirit that Tim had when he produced his first paper about the World Wide Web, which I’m sure many of you know he handed to his boss and his boss wrote on the top, [0:03:07] “Vague, but interesting.” (Laughter)
This is not vague and what you are doing is certainly interesting. On behalf of Tim, please continue on this journey, because the UK has an opportunity to continue to be world leading. We’re doing lots of exciting things in the technology space, but it’s not easy and it never stops. I think maybe the weather today is quite a good sign for all of this; it’s a bit of a struggle, it’s quite hard, you think, “Can I be bothered?” You’ve got to carry a lot of things, you maybe fall over – I [0:03:37] definitely fall over – but it’s worth doing and worth continuing.
The final thing I want to say to you is please don’t be dispirited if the journey is a bit more bumpy this year. “Keep calm and carry on,” in the words of the mugs and posters that seem to be all over the place these days. This is the hard bit. I so remember in Lastminute.com when people would come up to my desk and go, “It’s just not the same any more.” I’d say, “What do you mean?” and they said, “It’s just not the [0:04:07] same; you don’t stand on a desk, and we don’t have cake on Fridays, and you don’t have lots of fuck-ups from customers in the middle of the night.” I’m like, “No, exactly; we’re growing up, we’re becoming more professional.”
Sure, you lose some stuff over here, but you gain a lot over there, the potential for real scale change being one of the most important. Everybody goes through the teething pains, there are always bumpy bits in the road, but it requires absolute commitment and total clarity to keep going. That’s what I think this next year is [0:04:37] going to be about.
If you ever ask me back in the future, then it would be amazing to look back and say, “This really was the year when we moved from Government thinking, ‘That’s all quite interesting over there’ to this being a proper paradigm shift in how things are done.” That, to me, is what I was trying to urge Francis to take on when I wrote my report. Of course, in a much more profound way, that was what Tim was trying to do when he invented the World Wide Web.
I’m serious – 25th birthday of the Web; I cannot think of a better [0:05:07] birthday present than Government delivering on its promise of much more open, much more inclusive, much better services. Thank you, really, for everything that you’ve done and for everything that I know you’re going to do this year. Have a fantastic day, thank you (applause).