First chief digital officer for Wales

First chief digital officer appointed in Wales

The Welsh government has announced it will appoint a chief digital officer to oversee public sector delivery…

In a bid to transform public sector delivery of digital services at a national and local level the Welsh government has announced it will appoint a chief digital officer.

The news follows the recently published ‘Digital First’ strategy paper, which outlined the initial aims for overhauling devolved services provided in Wales. These included setting out open source standards, national domain names, and the intentions for a national open data framework.

Julie James, the deputy minister for skills and technology, wrote in the strategy document that closer collaboration was required with stakeholders at national, UK, and local government level to ensure users received a consistent experience.

She wrote: “We recognise that there are many barriers to accessing online services particularly for those on low incomes, the disabled and older people.

“By improving the quality of the digital services available and by ensuring that help and assistance is at the forefront of our service design, we can encourage and enable more people to engage with the digital services we provide.”

The document called for a “single coherent” Welsh Public Sector Open Data Framework. The Chief Digital Officer will oversee the strategy.

The document stated: “This will complement existing and ongoing work and set some common ground rules and expectations for public services in Wales. It will also provide clarity on the nature and extent of our information assets, the ways in which we making these available and the opportunities.”

The document also identified some areas that could utilise shared services or collaboration to save money and relieve budget pressures. This included finance, HR, and other back-office functions. The document highlighted the need to standardise delivery mechanisms for public services.

“Technical solutions that are developed in the open and that are published openly for re-use are critical,” it said.

“The Welsh public sector already has an appetite to work in this way and to build on this we will develop a common and open standards framework as a foundational step for the transformation of Welsh public services.”

The document also stated the new domain names ‘.cymru’ and ‘.wales’ will be used as a default by the public sector in Wales.

It is not known if the Welsh government has someone in mind for the role, but as services increasingly become more digitised it is vital to have a clear, cut strategy for the future. The Cabinet Officer recently appointed its own chief digital officer, Connall Bullock, highlighting the need for dedicated experts in this field.


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