New GDS Service Standard removes need for ministerial tests of services

service standardImage: New GDS standard removes the need for ministerial tests of services. Photo: Courtesy of Campaign Creators on Unsplash.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has published a 14-point set of Service Standard guidelines for government services, with emphasis on inclusion and cross-departmental services, and removes the need for subjecting services to ministerial test.

In a blog post, GDS content lead for service design and standards Stephen Gill said that the new Service Standard, containing 14 conditions government services must meet in order to pass GDS assessment, will come into effect on 1 July 2019.

The new Service Standard will replace the 18-point Digital Service Standard, which has been in place for four years.

According to Gill, five of the new points are almost identical to those featured in the outgoing standard. These include: understand users and their needs; have a multidisciplinary team; use agile ways of working; iterate and improve frequently; and make new source code open.

While the Digital Service Standard requires developers to understand security and privacy issues, under the new Service Standard developers will be required to create a secure service which protects users’ privacy.

Previously, developers sought to encourage everyone to use the digital services. However, the new standard stipulates the need to ensure that everyone can use the service.

The GDS official said: “It’s worth saying that, despite the exciting new stuff, the updated standard isn’t a grand departure. In fact, the vast majority of the underlying intent is the same.

“We still care about things like building services iteratively, delivering value to users as quickly as possible, open-sourcing your code and using common platforms.”

The requirement, “evaluate tools and systems”, is changed to “choose the right tools and technology”.

While the 2015 iteration included three points to the need to collect, analyse, and report back on performance data, the new standard implements “define what success looks like and publish performance data” as a single rule.

The stipulation that services must be tested by the relevant minister has been removed. The new standard will no longer impose any rule that services must meet with ministerial approval.

However, the requirement for the use of agile methods states that service teams must ensure that the right people know what’s happening and should, if appropriate, test the service with a minister or other senior stakeholder.

All services put forward to be assessed will be judged against the new standard from 1 July 2019.

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