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Nine months at the digital services division

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I arrived at the Ministry of Justice, on loan from the Government Digital Service, 9 months ago. The Board had just granted approval to build a specialist team to lead on the Digital by Default agenda, and there were equal amounts of excitement and scepticism in the department.

Since then we’ve established a Digital Services Division, made up of very talented and experienced digital experts in a range of roles, and set up our own space in the department (complete with post-its and whiteboards). We’ve published an ambitious Digital Strategy, identifying four big ‘exemplar’ transactions to redesign digitally, and we talk about our progress on this public blog.

We’ve made great headway with service transformation: Lasting Power of Attorney applications went live in beta at the beginning of this month, and Employment Tribunal fee payment will go into beta at the end of the month. Our other two exemplar services – Prison Visits Booking and Civil Claims – have completed discovery and are now moving into alpha phase.

We’ve also been successful in improving some of the ways we work in the department, including opening up access to social media for MOJ staff, working with policy teams to use digital tools and techniques for open policymaking, and driving forward MOJ’s efforts on transparency and open data.

It is so exciting to see how far we’ve come in just 9 months. My loan is about to finish, and I’ll be going back to the Government Digital Service at the beginning of next week, to work as an Associate Product Manager on GOV.UK. But the business of making Justice digital is only just getting started (and DSD are hiring!).

Some of my best experiences at the Ministry of Justice have included going out to speak to our users at prisons and tribunals across the country, to better understand their needs. Running a workshop with prisoners and their families, sticking post-its on prison walls, will surely rank as one of the most unusual experiences of my whole career.

More generally, I’ve enjoyed working at DSD because of the winning combination of an inspiring mission and inspiring colleagues. I’m excited about my new role, but I’ll miss DSD a lot, and I’ll continue to watch their progress with interest.

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