Digital toolkit to provide platform software for Northern Ireland public bodies

By on 14/04/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Belfast: the Northern Ireland administration hopes its digital toolkit will support public services as modern as the city’s Titanic Quarter (Image courtesy: Titanic Belfast /flickr).

The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) has let a new contract for its digital toolkit service, with its Department of Finance (DoF) signing a deal with a technology company to provide reusable software applications for use by public bodies across the province.

The DoF and Digital Shared Services (DSS), a directorate that sits within the DoF and is responsible for implementing the government’s Digital Transformation Strategy, will use the suite of technology tools to push forward with moving more civil service operations online.

A DoF spokesperson told Global Government Forum: “By providing reusable software applications which can be used by any public sector organisation, the NI Digital Toolkit reduces the time and cost to build online services. This new contract will support further development of the toolkit.”

Government as a Platform services

The toolkit will include application development, testing, user experience, enterprise solutions, delivery, support and data analytics, and will be provided by Stiona Software. The DoF hopes the new contract will provide significant cost savings: the supplier will provide “the facility to develop and deliver digital solutions to meet strategic objectives in the most cost effective way,” the tender notice said.

Speaking about the administration’s ambitions for the toolkit at the end of last year, a DoF spokesperson told UKAuthority it was “realising an ambition to create a platform for Northern Ireland Government for the same cost as a single line of business application.”

“Significantly, as the toolkit continues to deliver new digital services, then greater cost benefits are realised through re-use and the platform itself is enhanced with new re-usable components,” the spokesperson said.

Economies of scale

The contract has been valued at between £5.5m (US$7.2m) and £11m (US$14.4m) depending on customer uptake and volume of work. Stiona Software will provide the digital toolkit for the next three years, and will also manage support, maintenance and further development of the service.

In recent years, the NICS has implemented a ‘digital first’ policy in the redesign of services. The Digital Transformation Programme aims to deliver 70% of all citizen transactions with government online by the end of this year.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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