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Transforming for a Digital Future - one year update (part 2)

In June 2022 we launched Transforming for a digital future, government's 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data: an ambitious plan for digital transformation in government. Digital and business leaders came together to agree six missions centred around concrete commitments that all departments are committed to delivering. 

The plan we set out is guiding progress across government, as highlighted in my previous blog. We’re committed to delivering against it and finishing what we started. 

It’s also essential we look forwards and outwards, making sure we’re keeping pace with emerging trends, challenges and opportunities. That’s why leaders have come together again to make some updates to the missions in the roadmap going into year two. 

"Our progress over the last year is testament to the commitment of thousands of brilliant purpose-minded technologists across government. It is their hard work that is making it easier and quicker for people to access the outcomes they need, and for civil servants to harness the very best technology and data available to improve people’s lives and livelihoods in the UK. These new commitments published last week further strengthen our ability to do just that."
Megan Lee Devlin, Chief Executive, CDDO

We’re investing in digital capability and early career digital talent

Over the last year, we’ve heard from teams calling out for more digital capacity and capability. It’s vital we build strong digital skills at scale so the Civil Service is fit for a digital future, particularly with tech talent in such high demand. 

That’s why we’re adding two new commitments to Mission Five: Digital skills at scale:

  • at least 2,500 new entrants to the government digital, data and technology profession will be introduced via apprenticeships and early career talent programmes
  • at least 6% of the overall workforce of the Civil Service will be members of the digital, data and technology profession.

This builds on some exciting initiatives we’re already seeing to grow capability. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), for example, has enhanced its digital and technical apprenticeships offering through the Digital, Data and Technology Services (DDTS) Academy, with special focus on growing their own talent in hard to recruit roles.

"To achieve the potential of new technologies, we need the right people with the right skills. That’s why I’m delighted we’ve agreed these new commitments to bolster our digital workforce and bring in early career digital talent."
Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office,
Executive sponsor of Mission Five

We’re recognising the potential of AI to transform government

Nobody can have missed the rapid advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI) this year. New forms of AI make it possible to use technology to do work in ways we couldn’t previously imagine: the potential to change how we do business, how services are delivered and the way we work is truly enormous.

Already, we’re seeing teams across government exploring the potential. For example, finalists in the Civil Service Data Challenge showed how AI can be used in HMRC to improve handling and routing on 15 million items of correspondence every year. 

At the same time, we’re conscious that new forms of AI carry new risks, and that we need to deploy them responsibly. That’s why, as well as publishing guidance, we’ve modified our commitment in Mission Four, to identify and capture opportunities from emerging technology, to focus on enabling teams to make confident and responsible use of AI.

"AI offers great opportunities to improve services and make us more productive. It’s also complex and rapidly developing and requires strong safeguards. I’m looking forward to supporting civil servants to use AI safely and with confidence."
Paul Lincoln, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence,
Executive sponsor of Mission Four

We’re honing how we address systemic barriers to digital transformation

To create enduring change, we need to transform the structures and processes that underpin how government operates. We know, from exciting initiatives across government, this kind of change is possible. For example, the Home Office is moving to Product Lifecycle Management, working collaboratively across policy, operations and digital to deliver continuous improvements to products and services. Two programmes have transitioned to this approach so far, focusing on delivering outcomes rather than outputs and proving they’re able to respond quickly to changes. 

We want to make this the norm. When we published the roadmap, CDDO committed to work with other functions to address barriers to digital transformation. After a year of learning what works, we’ve sharpened the commitment in Mission Six: A system that unlocks digital transformation, to focus on a new pilot approach so we can be more specific about which barriers we are addressing and, in agile style, test our approach before wider roll-out.

"I’m determined to unlock the potential for digital transformation. This approach is helping to find a new and agile way to break down systemic barriers, which will hopefully pave the way for wider reform."
Conrad Smewing, Director General, Public Spending, HMT,
Executive sponsor of Mission Six

We’re learning and iterating to drive transformation in year two 

We’re committed to continuously reviewing progress, gathering feedback and using data to guide us, in line with the National Audit Office’s report, ‘Digital transformation in government: addressing the barriers to efficiency’, published in March, which stressed that we need to be prepared to adapt if we’re to continue making good progress.

In addition to the changes highlighted in this blog, we’ve made small adjustments to some other commitments in the roadmap. With these changes, I’m confident we’re keeping the roadmap focused on meeting government’s biggest challenges.

Now, we’re looking forward to achieving key milestones for year two, like getting more services to ‘great’ and onboarding them to One Login, delivering a beta version of the Data Marketplace

We’ll also be focusing on creating a framework for government’s use of AI, piloting new multi-disciplinary ways of working and upskilling senior leaders in digital and data essentials.

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  1. Comment by Anon posted on

    I can't help but feel Mission 5 would be so much easier to achieve if CDDO and/or GDS had kept the centralised Digital Academy up and running rather than shutting it down, thus leaving each Government department to have to go out and find its own way of upskilling staff - that's going to increase the risk of fractured and disparate ways of working across the whole of the CS rather than providing a single frame of reference that everyone can work from.

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by CDDO posted on

      Prior to stopping delivering courses, the Digital Academy website directed colleagues to Government Campus [] ; a centralised provision enabling civil servants to develop their knowledge through a single curriculum.

      It continues to offer civil servants the chance to build on their expertise and enhance their skills in a vast number of areas, including digital and data.

      New learning content is regularly provided, for example;
      Generative AI: Introduction
      Generative AI: Risks and Ethics
      Generative AI: Tools and Applications
      Generative AI: Prompt Engineering
      Generative AI: Strategy and Governance

      To access you can search 'Generative AI' on the Civil Service Learning Platform


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