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Benjamin Welby @bmwelby
, 31 tweets, 14 min read Read on Twitter
So, remarkably today was my last day at GDS after six years so I'm going to treat/subject you to a thread...

Such mixed emotions. I've been so lucky to call this my workplace. It's been an absolute privilege so I am at once incredibly excited and desperately sad.
There's a lot to reflect on what I've done and what I've learnt in the six years since @ejhp's invitation to join @SarahPrag and @marksheldon on the team prepping to launch GOV.UK.
I spent a lot of those first months wrestling Business Link. And apparently I still can't escape it...@Shotclog reminded me he still had this folder the other day. It contains a hard drive of BL's 77,000 pages and all its associated miscellany. A white folder emblazoned with the original logo
Amazingly a few thousand daily GOV.UK visits start at a Business Link URL before being redirected. Just a tiny drop in the millions of journeys protected by the handiwork of @annashipman, @jenny_duckett, @issyl0, @psd @fatbusinessman and others #nolinkleftbehind
I'm so proud of having been part of this community of practitioners in GDS and across government that has never ceased to be passionately committed to making the experience of government better for everyone.
If I sat down and thought about all the brilliant people I've worked with or who I've seen pass through government having left it better than they found it, it would be a list many hundreds of people long. Thank you.
Government is a maddening but rewarding place to spend some time. We do things that really, really matter. We don't always do it perfectly but no question at all that isn't for want of trying.
Seven years ago @cantwaitogo delivered his damning indictment of government IT. It's worth revisiting as many of the things he called #unacceptable are now consigned to history. We've come a long way.…
A few of my favourites...

High profile things that seem obvious but took huge commitment to land like registering to vote in minutes, mobile phone photos for passport applications, and direct debit to tax your car
But also more hidden things like making it easy for friends and family to stay in touch with prisoners by simplifying booking a visit or sending them money. And how that rooting of people in the outside world aids their return to society on their release…
I love the Check your state pension service more than most people because of its back story.

In 2013 the GOV.UK support team spotted that people couldn't log in. When @KushalP looked into it he found that some javascript was blocking half the alphabet in Chrome
The service team spoke to their supplier. They reported that the service was built for IE4 and because the supplier wanted £42k to change a single character there was no option other than guidance to say use caps lock (because CAPPSED UP was fine) and wait for its replacement.
Honestly, at that time I didn't believe them. But I was so wrong.

With @GOVUKverify and HMRC they built something great that their users love...In April, over 500,000 people used it with 95% digital takeup, a far cry from 18,000 at launch.…
Verify has been under almost perpetual assault in my time here and yes, it has been a long time but I'm backing the team to prove the doubters wrong. The truly transformative services that couldn't exist without it are starting to emerge. Like these two:
Digital mortgages are a real thing so if you're remortgaging this year you might get to do that without witnesses or signatures.…
You can do a basic Disclosure and Barring Service records check entirely on the internet.…
(I have a memory that that was supposed to be one of the original exemplars but better late than never.)
The DBS team have made full use of As well as Verify they're using GOV.UK Pay, GOV.UK Notify and all built by drawing on the Service Manual and aligned to the Design System.
It's brilliant that we're starting to see more services that will have done that, fulfilling that promise of Government as a Platform to give service teams tools that deal with common needs so they can spend their energy focused on what's unique to their users
It's a shame that we've not been able to give as much energy to expanding out the range of what's available to keep making things as easy as possible for the long tail of services but I've been given hope something exciting is brewing on that front too
In that tail there is lots left to do but what is brilliant about looking back over six years in government is that the design principles, the Service Manual and the Service Standard are really just matter of mainstream fact, not zealous belief.
Which makes it exciting to see the emergence of cross government service communities supported by a revised Service Standard to cement the relationship between policy, delivery and operations and truly tackle the end to end experience of a service.
And helping to land that is just a seismic shift in the capability of government built through the GDS Academy, the DDaT job families and crucially supported by increased access to brilliant suppliers through the work of @GOVUKdigimkt and @gov_procurement.
A huge amount of stuff has been written about GDS from the outside looking in while I've worked here. Some has been positive but be under no illusions that this organisation has, and will continue to support an absolutely massive shift in the way government operates.
I'm leaving for an exciting role with @OECD but we aren't swapping Croydon for Paris (I blame @98rosjon) so instead I'll be making the most of that frictionless border crossing.

Thank you #gdsteam for a wonderful six years. Ezra says bye :)
Almost unforgiveably I made no mention of #localgov in this thread! So, a postscript.

Local was why I joined GDS in the first place and I wish we could have done more to directly support people like Gavin and others involved with @LocalGovDigital
All sorts of reasons why we didn't but mostly I can only point to a trickle down effect and be sad that I think things remain far patcher where all things #unacceptable are concerned.
Procurement has a massive part to play in changing that. I've been so impressed by @mcaino and @RobMiller31 use of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework in Hackney to build a network of trusted suppliers, tackling big problems incrementally. Ask them about it.
And so does the Service Toolkit. During my time on Government as a Platform we prioritised opening access to the wider public sector. It's fantastic that lots of councils have since got involved - Notify has been bowling along and Pay will be seeing its first services imminently
That formula of supplier plus resources is transforming a service at the intersection of central and local - Blue Badges.

I'm hoping the beta is delivering the promise of an impressive alpha that looked like being a case study for all the right reasons…
More broadly I'm excited by how MHCLG might get stuck in now that they've got some trouble makers like @maltbyps, @psd and @LindaSasta in the building. Watch that space.
But most of all I just remain in awe at those who continue to slog it out at the front line of services, under incredible constraints. Local government is full of underappreciated heroes across all roles. Cherish them.
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