UK and US to share expertise on digital government, open data and coding schemes

The US and UK have announced plans to work together on improving digital public services, opening up government data and expanding schemes to teach young people digital skills.

During a visit to Washington last week, prime minister David Cameron and president Barack Obama promised to 'strengthen and expand the ongoing digital partnership' between the two countries.

Specific commitments include sharing best practice on improving digital skills among young people, for example via the new UK computing curriculum and the 'long standing practical experience of teaching code' in US schools.

The UK and US promised to swap expertise on the open data agenda, as exemplified by the US and UK websites, which host hundred of thousands of government datasets.

They also committed to jointly promote open data internationally through groups such as the G8 and the 65-nation 'Open Government Partnership'.

TheUK Government Digital Service (GDS) andUS Digital Service (USDS) said they would share and possibly reuse each others' code by making all software developed open source.

The US service was launched in August last year, modelled on the UK GDS, a centralised group of digital expertsset up in 2011 with a remit of helping departments to deliver cheaper, better citizen-facing digital services and bringing all government websites under a single domain.

USDS is led by Mikey Dickerson, a former Google employee who was drafted in the help repair the website after a troubled launch in October 2013.

"One of the lessons we've shared across the Atlantic has been that, with an agile approach to digital transformation, rapid change and digital successes can be born from the ashes of challenging legacy systems," UK chief digital officer Mike Bracken and chief technology officer Liam Maxwell said in a blog post.

Dickerson and other members of the US Digital Service team will visit GDS' headquarters in London 'in the coming months', according to White House CTO Megan Smith and director Shaun Donovan.

Last month the UK government similarly promised to work with governments in New Zealand, Israel, South Korea and Estonia via the newly-launched 'D5' group of 'digital nations'. The US is not part of the group but attended the launch of the D5 as a 'non-member observer'.

Image credit: Crown Copyright/Arron Hoare


Charlotte Jee

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