Welcome! This month - radical unbundling (a ‘what if’ about services moving to features), funding digital services in digital ways, critical mass for data exchanges and real-time finance.
As before, I’m slowly returning to work after parental leave. So, if anyone wants a chat about the things in this newsletter or to talk about working together, please get in touch.
🇮🇳 The Bhu-Aadhaar/ULPIN will be a 14-digit alpha-numeric number generated based on the latitude longitude of the vertices of land parcels in India. It’s aiming to be a single, authoritative source of truth of information on any parcel of land or property.
🇨🇳 China has announced a National Data Administration with an apparently broad mandate including digitisation of services and data exchange.
🇬🇧 🪟 Contained in the UK’s spring budget is an announcement that the “first strategic release of the UK Single Trade Window (STW)” will happen later this year.1
🐙🐈 Github will support community managers on 7 digital public goods. Two of them (OpenFisca and Open Terms Archive) are platform shaped. Positions are voluntary but may include some payment. Applications are open.
👛 The Linux Foundation has announced an open source digital wallet for credentials, seemingly with an eye on the recent EU announcements on digital identity.
🏥 Google has released Open Health Stack - a set of APIs and components for building health apps for Android around the FHIR and HL7 standards. It also includes some design guidelines for clinical data capture that will be of interest to people working on government design systems. It’s also been added to the Digital Public Goods Alliance’s register.
Login.gov is likely to become an option for US federal benefits. The US tax office (IRS) is also aiming to implement by so-called ‘tax day’.2
Thinking aloud: Radical unbundling - a blueprint for a single government service?
Digital government, at least as practiced in countries with legacy technology, is often predicated on service-by-service redesign.
Taking inspiration from India (DigiLocker) and Australia (the single todo list for government mentioned in the recent myGov report), what would happen if we took the idea of entire government services becoming features of a cross-government digital product to the extreme? What if we could unbundle all of the common aspects of government services, regardless of which part of government operates them, into their component parts and then reassemble them as features of a single digital product. How might it feel to interact with government? Below is a thumbnail sketch.
Things and activities - ‘your car’, ‘tax credits’, ‘starting school’, ‘your company’ etc. Everything listed below is linked to one of these.
Tasks - things that need to be completed by a citizen. Completing tasks may generate new tasks. Tasks can be generated automatically e.g. when a licence can’t be renewed automatically, or there is a high likelihood of value for a user (90% chance of eligibility, planning application affecting a neighbouring building, etc).
Journal entries - a record of all significant interactions with government. Includes completed tasks, web chat, calls, letters, messages and data access by third parties
Credentials - incudes things like proof of benefits or address and licences. Users can request credentials are issued or government can issue them automatically. Credentials can be used within tasks, with appropriate user consent as necessary.
Forms - digital forms for collecting information and navigating business logic
Payments - a single view of money in (tax) and out (benefits) of government for a user
Help - a single interface that brokers access to the correct callcenter for a given task and manages delegated access to third-party organisations
The value of simple conceptual frameworks for digital transformation - things that help public servants see where their service or policy fits in - are undervalued. Thinking of two projects I was involved with - GOV.UK and Universal Credit - both of them had a some of this. For GOV.UK it was ‘content formats’, for Universal Credit it was ‘todo tasks’ and ‘journal’ entries.
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