20th November 2017

The Independent outlines what we might expect from Philip Hammond’s Budget on 22 November. Quotes Dr Emily Andrews, Senior Researcher. 

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Original source – The Institute for Government

How select committees can provide effective scrutiny in 2017-19

This IfG Insight paper considers how select committees can undertake effective scrutiny of Brexit. After looking back at committee activity before the General Election – which cut off much useful work mid-stream ­– we examine how parliamentary committees should contribute to and hold the Government to account for the Brexit process. The paper follows our earlier reports Scrutinising Brexit and Legislating for Brexit.

Download this checklist in PDF / Download this checklist as an image

Questions for select committees about Brexit

Update date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – 00:15

Original source – The Institute for Government

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – 13:00


The Institute for Government is delighted to welcome Adrian O’Neill, the Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom. He will be in conversation with Jill Rutter, Programme Director at the Institute for Government, discussing Ireland’s perspective on Brexit. 

There will be an opportunity for Q&A with the audience.  

To book your place at this event, please email your full name, job title and organisation to events@instituteforgovernment.org.uk

Ambassador O’Neill took up duty as Ireland’s 17th Ambassador to the United Kingdom in September 2017. He served as Second Secretary General to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for the Ireland, UK and Americas Division, from 2014 to 2017. Prior to that he served as Secretary General to the President of Ireland (2010-14). 



Original source – The Institute for Government

20th November 2017

The IfG’s Joe Owen is quoted in this Financial Times article on Brexit and customs. 

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Original source – The Institute for Government

BI Ventures is expanding! We are looking for excellent candidates to drive two of our flagship products in the following roles:

  • Head of Growth (Founding Team), Predictiv
  • Head of Growth (Founding Team), Promptable 

To scale Promptable and Predictiv we need people who can drive the product strategy, lead on global customer acquisition and retention, and eventually grow the product team in partnership with the Head of Product.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for both roles, please complete an application for the role you feel strongest about and answer all 6 questions. By answering question 6, you are indicating that you would like to be considered for both positions. Please do not submit two separate applications.

If you would just like to apply for just one role, complete the first 5 questions, and put an x in your answer for number 6.

Date of posting: 20th November 2017
Close of Applications: 4th December 2017 at noon
Interviews and assessment tasks will take place: From mid-December 2017

We’re also recruiting an Associate Research Advisor (Data Science)visit our jobs page for all current vacancies.

If you do not already hold the right to work in the UK and/or require sponsorship in order to continue working here, you should think carefully before applying. This is because we will be unable to sponsor you unless there is no other suitably qualified settled worker available to fill the role or your current immigration status means that the resident labour market test will not apply in your case.

The Behavioural Insights Team is committed to a policy of Equal Employment Opportunity and is determined to ensure that no applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of gender, age, disability, religion, belief, sexual orientation, marital status, or race, or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be justifiable.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

20th November 2017

The IfG’s Dr Emily Andrews is quoted in this Bloomberg article about the 2017 Budget. 

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Original source – The Institute for Government

Robot at the keyboardOur news and activity streams are buzzing with articles, blogs, analyst reports and social media hype around the topic of “AI”. It’s a fairly loosely defined topic that covers an enormous spectrum of disciplines, from big data and predictive analytics, to machine learning, natural language processing, automation and robotics. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either the most important technological breakthrough since the invention of electricity, or it heralds the end of civilisation as we know it! Extreme scenarios are most certainly fantasies and should be discounted. The most likely outcome is neither extremely negative nor extremely positive.

What tends to focus our attention are the stories about how AI and “intelligent” machines are replacing roles, jobs, or even professions. What is the real truth behind these stories?

There is no doubt that workplace automation is becoming more widespread, and today’s AI-enabled, information-rich tools are increasingly able to handle jobs that in the past have been exclusively done by people (including tax returns, language translations, accounting, even some types of surgery) – automation is destined to have profound implications for the future world of work.

McKinsey recently reported that 30 percent of activities for 60 percent of occupations are now technically automatable.

Recent advances in robotics, machine learning, and AI are pushing the frontier of what machines are capable of doing in all facets of business and the economy. Physical robots have been around for a long time in manufacturing, but more capable, more flexible, safer, and less expensive robots are now engaging in ever expanding activities and combining mechanisation with cognitive and learning capabilities—and improving over time as they are trained by their human co-workers on the shop floor, or increasingly learn by themselves.

Massive amounts of data that can be used to train machine learning models are being generated, for example through daily creation of billions of images, online click streams, voice and video, mobile locations, and sensors embedded in the Internet of Things. The combination of these breakthroughs has led to spectacular demonstrations like DeepMind’s AlphaGo, which defeated a human champion of the complex board game ‘Go’ in March 2016.

New milestones are being achieved in numerous areas, often with performance beyond human capabilities. In 2016, for example, Google’s DeepMind and the University of Oxford applied deep learning to a huge data set of BBC programs to create a lip-reading system that is more accurate than a professional lip-reader.

There are numerous examples of how machine learning is being used to augment human decision making in healthcare, aircraft maintenance, oil and gas operations, recruitment, insurance claims processing and law. There is barely a sector that is not engaged in some way in exploring the use of AI and automation technologies to improve productivity or accuracy.

One of the more practical roles for AI over the past few years has been to automate administrative tasks and decisions. Companies typically have thousands of such tasks and decisions to perform, and it was realized that if they could be expressed in a formal logic, they could be automated. A key feature of this type of automation is machine/deep learning and robotic process automation (RPA) – which, contrary to its name does not involve actual robots; it makes use of workflow and business rules technology to perform digital tasks.  The technology makes it relatively easy to automate structured digital tasks that involve interaction with multiple information systems.

So, what does all of this new technology mean in terms of jobs? Most analysts are agreed that whilst many routine tasks and functions – both physical and cognitive – are being automated, this does not necessarily mean that we are heading for mass unemployment as the machines take over. Perhaps one of the most extensive research programmes into the impact of AI on jobs and skills has been undertaken by Nesta. It has published its findings in the report:  The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. Well worth a read. The report highlights that:

  • skills that are likely to be in greater demand in the future include interpersonal skills, higher-order cognitive skills, and systems skills.
  • the future workforce will need broad-based knowledge in addition to the more specialised skills that will are needed for specific occupations.
  • dialogues that consider automation alone are dangerous and misleading since they rarely take account of globalization, an ageing population and the rise of the green economy.

Perhaps the last word on where AI and automation is having (or will have) the most impact should go to Gil Press at Forbes, who identifies the sectors and functions as follows:

  1. Customer Self-Service: Customer-facing physical solutions such as kiosks, interactive digital signage, and self-checkout. Improved by recent innovations such as better touchscreens, faster processors, improved connectivity and sensors. A prime example is the experimental Amazon Go convenience store.
  2. AI-Assisted Robotic Process Automation: Automating organizational workflows and processes using software bots.
  3. Industrial Robots: Physical robots that execute tasks in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and similar verticals with heavy, industrial-scale workloads. The Internet of Things, improved software and algorithms, data analytics, and advanced electronics have contributed to a wider array of form factors, ability to perform in semi- and unstructured environments, and the “intelligence” to learn and operate autonomously.
  4. Retail and Warehouse Robots: Physical robots with autonomous movement capabilities used in retailing and/or warehousing. Amazon deploys this technology throughout its warehouses.
  5. Virtual Assistants: Personal digital concierges that know users and their data and are discerning enough to interpret their needs and make decisions on their behalf.
  6. Sensory AI: Improving computers ability to identify, “understand,” and even express human sensory faculties and emotions via image and video analysis, facial recognition, speech analytics, and/or text analytics.

He goes on to say:

“There is no question that we will continue to see in the future the same disruption in the job market that we have witnessed in the last sixty-plus years of computer technology creating and destroying jobs (like other technologies that preceded it). The type of disruption that has created Facebook and Tesla. Facebook had a handful of employees in 2004 and today employs 20,000.  Tesla was founded in 2003 and today has 33,000 employees. Whether AI technologies progress fast or slow and whether AI will continue to excel only at narrow tasks or succeed in performing multi-dimensional activities, entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg and Musk…will seize new business opportunities to both destroy and create jobs. Humans, unlike bots and robots (now and possibly forever), adapt to changing circumstances.”

One thing we can be sure of: the rate of change will continue to accelerate, and if we wish to remain relevant in our chosen professions, we need to identify and refine the skills that can’t easily be automated, for example: flexibility, imagination, intuition, empathy and creative ability. Distinctly human skills I think you will agree.

The slides are from a recent ‘Breakfast Briefing’ as part of Workplace Week and in aid of Children In Need. The event was kindly sponsored by Norton Rose Fulbright and Warwick Business School’s Knowledge & Innovation Network.

The post Automation and AI – What does the future of work look like? appeared first on Communities & Collaboration.

Original source – Steve Dale online

Digital assurance and innovation

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we (the DH Digital Technology and Strategy team) run a Service Transformation and Standards community designed to bring colleagues involved in digital projects from our Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) together to share expertise, best practice and trouble-shoot issues. Meetings are held every 2-3 months and each session has focussed on a common pain point that DH teams and ALBs have when delivering digital projects. Previous sessions have covered topics such as digital procurement, digital spend controls and hosting, platforms and improving digital assurance.

In our latest session, which took place on 10th October, we provided an update on the work we have been doing to improve our digital assurance process, Kassandra Karpathakis from Public Health England did a show and tell on some great user research she has been doing to improve PHE’s internal digital assurance process and Jess Morley, our resident Tech Adviser, ran an interactive workshop on how as a group, we might unlock the potential of technology for healthcare.

Improving our digital assurance process

In my last Service Transformation and Standards community blog post, I told you about the grand ALB tour that our new Digital Assurance team embarked on to understand the ALB landscape and the complexities of the assurance process from an ALB perspective. Having returned with lots of useful feedback, we identified 5 priority actions for our team.

  1. Develop and share digital project pipeline information across the ALBs
  2. Work with ALBs and DH to understand and improve the end to end approvals processes
  3. Work with ALBs and GDS to understand and implement the newly proposed pipeline assurance process
  4. Develop working groups within the ALB community to promote joint working and to share knowledge and best practice
  5. Develop templates, SLAs, status notifications, best practice and guides to support projects when spend control requests are required

This presentation led by Katie Regan and myself, provided an update on each of these priority areas. Highlights included an introduction to our visual pipeline prototype, which we built in Trello to show all the digital projects taking place across our ALBs and a whistlestop tour of our new Slack community. Both tools were designed to make it quicker and easier for DH and ALBs to showcase good practice, identify opportunities for shared purchasing/licensing, share experiences and learning, spot opportunities for collaboration and achieving shared outcomes and to provide advice and guidance earlier in the assurance process.

We also introduced some interesting work we have been doing to map the entire assurance journey in a visual and shareable way, so that we can capture the pain points and work with our ALBs and others to simplify the process and make it less labour intensive.

We also talked about our upcoming Data Day on 1st November, the first cross health working group to come out of the Service Transformation and Standards community. More to come on both the mapping exercise and Data Day in separate blog posts.

Public Health England’s user research

As part of the work we are currently doing (priorities 2-5) to revise guidance and support for spend controls, we invited Kassandra Karpathakis from Public Health England (PHE) to talk about the work she has been doing to update, improve and simplify the advice, guidance and support for internal teams looking to get digital spend approval and start their digital project. I won’t elaborate on this any further, as you can read all about it in the guest blog post Kassandra has kindly written for us about this piece of work.

Kassandra’s post will form the first in a series of posts as we continue to work with our community to improve the spend controls process.

Technology for healthcare: Unlocking the potential

Against a backdrop of drivers from Personalised health and care 2020, and using some real-world examples backed up by the wisdom of great thinkers like Paracelsus, our Tech Adviser Jess Morley set the scene and provided us with a compelling argument for why we should be digitising the system, connecting all the pieces, making sense of all the data and building tools, systems, organisations, and a culture that takes advantage of these things to actually improve health and healthcare.

Having fired us all up and powered by Poll Everywhere, Jess then led some real-time brainstorming on how as a group we might begin to unlock the potential of technology for healthcare.

The outcomes of this workshop will be fed into our ongoing horizon scanning work which we will update you on very soon, so watch this space.

Get in touch

If you have any ideas for a future Service Transformation and Standards community event, or would like to find out more about this session or upcoming sessions, please contact the Digital Technology and Strategy team at: support@digitalprojects.zendesk.com

Original source – Stephen Hale

At the Institute for Government last week, the Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency, Caroline Nokes, gave her first statement on the state of digital government since the snap election.

Nokes’ speech aimed to reassure the audience that the government’s strategy is on track. She highlighted services that the Government Digital Service (GDS) is building to be used across the public sector.

But for the benefits of digital government to be realised, GDS should focus on spreading standards across government, so that services and organisations can be recombined “like Lego”. Nokes seemed to agree that “Lego government” is the right direction, but so far GDS has not put the spread of standards at the top of its agenda. 

Turning “big and slow” government aroundNokes made some important points about a modern government being a digital one. Much of this is in line our research on digital government.

She acknowledged that Government is ‘big and…slow’, while a modern government must keep up with people’s expectations of the convenience afforded by technology in their daily lives. The Government has “a duty to meet the needs and expectations of the people that it serves”, and that will vary across the population.

But she was quick to add that the “oil tanker” that is government is already being turned around.

The UK topped the UN’s e-government survey in 2016, and there has been more progress since. GOV.UK, she argued, “proved the art of the possible” by recently celebrating its four billionth visit and serving as an inspiration to governments worldwide. GOV.UK Registers are ‘the gold standard’ for data in a number of domains and £2.6bn has been spent through the Digital Marketplace. The new Digital Economy Act has made data sharing easier and the Data Science Ethical Framework is being revised.

But more than simply turning the oil tanker around, Nokes said there are three areas where the Government is looking to press ahead.

  1. The accessibility of GOV.UK – ensuring that content can be accessed by anyone using any technology, including voice-controlled virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa.
  2. Learning from the private sector by experimenting with new approaches and technologies pioneered in industry and formalising the process of that learning.
  3. Investing in cyber security by continuing to develop the National Cyber Security Centre and implement the Cyber Security Strategy, with £1.9bn of investment over the next five years.

Despite optimism, several challenges remainWhile the UN survey is positive about the UK’s performance, other studies have been more critical of the UK’s performance. On data, the government advertised for a Chief Data Officer in early 2017, but has yet to make an appointment. One of the key services that Nokes referred to is known as Verify, which helps citizens prove who they are online, making it easier to access public services. Nokes accepted that ‘there are challenges’ with the system, and didn’t take the opportunity to reaffirm the target of 25 million users by 2020 – as set out in the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto. At the current rate of progress, this target will not be met.

Like the Government Transformation Strategy, the minister’s speech contained some sensible statements but lacked specifics – particularly on spreading standards – to convince us that digital government is really on track.   

Further information: 

Watch and listen again to our event ‘The future of digital government: keynote speech by Caroline Nokes

Original source – The Institute for Government

20th November 2017

The IfG’s recent report ‘Public versus private: How to pick the best infrastructure finance option’ is referenced by David Smith in The Times. 

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Original source – The Institute for Government