Digital government report

Minister of State Ossian Smyth TD: Connecting Government 2030 launched

I was delighted to launch Connecting Government 2030: A Digital and ICT Strategy for Ireland’s Public Service in March 2022, setting out our ambition for digitalisation of public services over the coming years, writes Minister of State with responsibility for eGovernment Ossian Smyth TD.

We want to make it just as easy to get your government services online as it is to shop online. You can already apply for many services online, for example: a tax refund or a welfare payment online. It is great that you can get a new passport or a driver’s license without having to wait in a queue at an office counter.

We have delivered well against our expectations and have put in place the foundations of a strong digital government ecosystem. I acknowledge the work of our civil and public service for the progress to date. However, while there are many areas of excellence, we want to see ease of access to government services increase and greater integration across all public services. Connecting Government 2030 will help us achieve this ambition.

Connecting Government 2030 embodies a digital by default approach in delivering public services. Working with stakeholders and the public, we will build towards 90 per cent online uptake of key public services in line with the targets set by the EU’s Digital Decade. At the same time, of course, we will improve the offline experience for those who are unable to access services digitally.
Connecting Government 2030 addresses the digitalisation of public services dimension of the new national digital strategy, Harnessing Digital: The Digital Ireland Framework. It also aligns with the targets set out in Civil Service Renewal 2030.

The digital transformation of government means redesigning and rebuilding government processes and services and using digitalisation and data to provide an integrated experience and service for our people, for businesses, for policymakers and for service providers. In order to achieve more user-focused outcomes, digitalisation, supported by ICT, will be an integral part of policy-making and public service design processes from the outset,

My colleague in government, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, acknowledged this in Budget 2022. He remarked that the allocations announced “must be matched by a commitment to deliver value for money across all areas of government. This will mean further embedding digitisation and new ways of working across our public services”.

The well-established benefits of the digital transformation of public services for both individuals and businesses include efficiency, transparency, trust, and accessibility. Moreover, we know that a strong government digital performance supports and draws strength from a strong digital economy in Ireland.

Connecting Government 2030 identifies six priority action areas.

  1. A human-driven digital experience: Understanding our users and their needs is key to delivering better services.
  2. Harnessing data effectively: Improving public services by implementing structures to deliver more and better re-use of data, respecting privacy, and data protection.
  3. Government as a platform: Driving service simplification through an ecosystem of standards, resources and tools, including application of the ‘once-only’ principle.
  4. Evolving through innovation: Challenging ourselves to look afresh at solving difficult problems to build innovative solutions putting our users at the centre.
  5. Strengthening digital skills: Strengthening and developing new capabilities and skills, which are able to sustain a digital public service culture.
  6. Focusing on governance and leadership: Putting in place governance structures to drive digital transformation across government.

The following core design principles will drive those six priority action areas:

  • Digital by default and cloud-first: Building towards the targets for 2030 that 90 per cent of applicable services are consumed online and being more proactive and progressive in embracing cloud.
  • All-of-government approach: Ensuring an integrated and richer experience for individuals and businesses and that digital considerations are embedded in policy processes.
  • New ways of working: Enabling working environments that empower our people to give of their best, promoting the sharing of ideas, designs, and innovations.
  • Privacy-driven and secure by design: Design and build systems that are aligned with best practice in security and cyber defence.

The Connecting Government 2030 Strategy will help provide for our people with:

  • better access to trusted, high quality digital government services;
  • services delivered in an equitable, inclusive, and sustainable manner with enhanced service to those needing assistance;
  • secure and transparent reuse of personal data; 
  • opportunities to actively contribute to the co-creation of government services.
  • For businesses, the Strategy will help to deliver:
  • better access to integrated digital government services;
  • reduced administrative overheads;
  • GovTech opportunities; 
  • greater openness and enhanced engagement with government.

“Connecting Government 2030 embodies a digital by default approach in delivering public services.” – Minister of State with responsibility for eGovernment Ossian Smyth TD

For the public servants developing and delivering public services, the strategy will:

  • support the effective use of data to plan and deliver all government services;
  • strengthen capabilities and skills;
  • support an ecosystem of common digital building blocks/tools;
  • provide a strong governance framework.

Connecting Government 2030 recognises and reflects the ambition of the European Green Deal by promoting the use of environmentally friendly technologies and boosting the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean circular economy.

Consequently, we will continuously improve our use of sustainable ICT, including improved circular product cycles. We will work to ensure ICT equipment and services implemented by government become fully circular, i.e. not just energy efficient in design, but also designed to last longer, to be properly maintained, to contain recycled material, and to be easily dismantled and recycled.

A key element of this ambition is the development of the first government data centre, which will be innovative in its green design, delivery, and sustainability credentials. The new data centre and specifically the cloud-orientated infrastructure design within it will provide the pathway to close down inefficient computer rooms and small data centres, thus creating a more energy-efficient hosting capability across the public service. The government data centre will also be central to our wider data collection and storage plans, including edge computing.

The coming years will be about building upon our strong foundations and creating a world-leading digital government service. I look forward to the implementation of Connecting Government 2030: A Digital and ICT Strategy for Ireland’s Public Service. It will take an all-of-government effort to deliver its ambitious outcomes. But I am confident that Connecting Government 2030 will greatly improve the services we deliver to our people and to business and contribute to the Government’s overall objectives for sustainability.

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