DWP is in the middle of a large programme of welfare reform. Those of us involved in that transformation quite rightly focus a lot of attention on building customer-facing digital services designed with user needs in mind. Services like Apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and Check your State Pension.
As Director of Enabling Digital Delivery in the Business Transformation Group (BTG) in DWP, my focus is on making sure those services are underpinned by enabling services that can be re-used over and over again.
DWP’s users might never know that the enabling services exist, but they are crucial to how we efficiently and effectively deliver transformed services to our users.
Our Enabling Services Programme
We’ve got a number of enabling services under development as part of our Enabling Services Programme - I spoke about them at our recent Sprint DWP event. Some of these we are developing with other government departments, such as HMRC. We also have other enabling services that are being developed as part of other programmes, such as Debt Services and Fraud Referral Capture which are part of the Fraud, Error and Debt Programme.
Secure Communications is one example from the Enabling Services Programme – it’s currently in private beta.
Working in collaboration with the Department of Health, the Secure Communications service is already being used to authenticate third-party healthcare professionals so they can send us the DS1500 form online. This provides medical evidence for a claim.
To make this work there is a lot going on behind the scenes that’s invisible to the user. The way we’ve designed and built this means it can be re-used and scaled to support millions of third-party transactions a year.
We’ll re-use the same enabling service for a project relating to Fit Notes, part of Employment Support Allowance – and the Secure Communications team have a backlog of other health-related business needs.
How we’re using GOV.UK Verify
There are also government-wide enabling services built by our Cabinet Office colleagues at GDS. We've been talking to GDS about using GOV.UK Notify in the future in our Universal Credit Full Service and the Check your State Pension service – both of which are currently in beta.
We’ll be rolling out GOV.UK Verify across DWP’s other services as our transformation continues – next into beta will be Apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
But we’re not just passively “plugging in” GOV.UK Verify. We’re working together with GDS to improve the service to meet the needs of our users.
People’s experience of GOV.UK Verify varies. To see this first-hand, we have GDS colleagues sitting alongside Work Coaches in Job Centres, learning from how users are using the system, and making improvements.
By testing and learning, using advanced analytics of the service, and collaborating with GDS, we’re working to improve the service.
We’re already looking for ways to re-use enabling services from other government departments, and we’ll continue to share and re-use our services across government.
So we now have a new way to build user services, we have a new way of working, and a commitment to collaborate – proof that re-use of enabling services is on the right track to help transform government.