Digital ID among Indonesia transformation priorities; UK develops Civil Service Reward Strategy: news in brief

By on 18/01/2024 | Updated on 18/01/2024
A photo of the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia
Photo: Ramses Sinaga, reproduced under Creative Commons

Global Government Forum’s digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Indonesia names digital ID among transformation priorities

The government of Indonesia has embarked on a digital transformation programme, with digital identity and cloud data storage among the areas of focus.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo designated the country’s money printing public corporation as its lead agency for government technological transformation late last year, and the unit, now known as INA Digital, was part of a cross-government meeting this week to develop the plan.

The programme is intended to lead to integrated digital services, including digital ID, that will lead to the creation of an integrated national portal for government services, with a single sign-on system to deliver citizen-centric public services.

A digital ID pilot is planned to take place from June, while a government cloud policy is also being developed.

Read more: Indonesia publishes AI strategy

UK develops Civil Service Reward Strategy to set long-term approach to pay

The UK government is to develop a reward strategy for civil servants as part of moves to better link pay to performance.

The Civil Service Reward Strategy will create a “coherent, flexible, and individualised” framework, and is part of plans to link rewards and bonuses to higher performance, and to incentivise civil servants to develop deep subject expertise.

In a foreword to the strategy, Cabinet Office minister John Glen said: “We are determined that great performance from civil servants that provides better outcomes for taxpayers should be rewarded. 

“We will therefore reward people for being exceptional in what they deliver for the public, especially where it drives better productivity and more efficiency in the delivery of government. And we must better link reward and performance payments to meeting agreed targets and demonstrating higher performance.”

Read more: AI key to ‘transform productivity’ of the civil service, says UK’s deputy PM

The strategy also confirms that the size of the civil service has been capped at current levels, and that departments have been asked to produce plans to reduce the size of the civil service to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the next Spending Review period.

Glen added that the government wants to increase in-office attendance among civil servants, with an expectation that they spend a minimum of 60% of their working hours in offices and that senior managers are present at workplaces for a higher percentage of their time. “Senior managers’ presence will help colleagues have the support, guidance and development they need to keep delivering excellent public services,” he said.

In their foreword, Sir Alex Chisholm, chief operating officer for the civil service and permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office and Sarah Healey, permanent secretary of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities acknowledged that government needed to “balance[e] the opportunities and impacts of hybrid working, addressing rising pressures of mental health and wellbeing, and the need to grip the opportunities and requirements of a digital society”.

They added: “This plan outlines the priorities on which we must focus our collective leadership attention. We will be innovative in our approach to tackling them, being creative in our response to those established and emerging challenges to be the most efficient and productive civil service we can.”

Read more: The centre cannot hold: the future of UK regional policy

US lawmakers call for public to be told when government uses AI

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has proposed legislation that would require government agencies to inform individuals if artificial intelligence is used in their work.

The Transparent Automated Governance Act would require the Office of Management and Budget to develop guidance on how departments should tell the public if they use “automated and augmented systems”.

The legislation sets definitions for scheme systems, as well as for critical decisions where people would need to be informed that AI was used.

Republican member of the House of Representatives Clay Higgins, who introduced the legislation, told Nextgov/FCW: “I don’t trust the government, and I don’t trust AI. So I certainly don’t trust government bureaucracy armed with AI as an investigative or enforcement weapon.”

A similar piece of legislation has already been introduced into the US Senate, meaning that the legislation could pass by unanimous consent or as part of a larger legislative package, according to Nextgov/FCW.

Read more: Biden warns of ‘dangers’ of removing civil service protections from US federal officials

UK opposition to meet with civil servants ahead of general election

Senior politicians in the UK’s opposition Labour party will start talks with civil servants on how they would run government should they win the election later this year, having been granted permission by prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Access talks, as they are known, are a routine feature of British democracy. The meetings allow shadow ministers and their teams to establish relationships and discuss their agenda with top civil servants, helping to ensure a smooth transition into government in the event of a change in administration.  

A Cabinet Office spokesperson confirmed that “in line with the longstanding process set out in the cabinet manual, the prime minister has authorised access talks between the official opposition and civil service,” and added that cabinet secretary Simon Case would “oversee and arrange these discussions”.

The cabinet manual, which sets out the procedures for government, dictates that the meetings take place “on a confidential basis, without ministers being present or receiving a report of discussions”.

“These discussions are designed to allow the opposition’s shadow ministers to ask questions about departmental organisation and to inform civil servants of any organisational changes likely to take place in the event of a change of government.

“Senior civil servants may ask questions about the implications of opposition parties’ policy statements, although they would not normally comment on or give advice about policies.”

Read more: UK opposition to meet with civil servants ahead of general election

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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