GDS updates Technology Code of Practice

New version adds emphasis on accessibility, extra features on sharing and reuse, and more detail on commercial behaviours

New elements on accessibility, sharing and reuse and commercial behaviours have been added to the Technology Code of Practice in the revised version just published by the Government Digital Service (GDS).

It amounts to a significant update of the original 2013 document, following a two-month consultation, and reflects the aims of sourcing IT more effectively, knowing when to design solutions or use off-the-shelf software, and to be more adaptable in using technology.

Keyboard_close-upThe main significance of the code is that departments and agencies have to comply to win GDS approval of any projects valued at £100,000 upwards. In June, when the consultation was launched, government chief technology officer Andy Beale said it reflects changes in good practice over the past three years.

One step has been the addition of a new key point on making things accessible, reflecting the desire for everybody to be able to use government digital services. While the earlier version made references to accessibility it is now a more explicit requirement.

Another has been the addition of sharing and reuse of project documentation, such as value chain maps, business cases and job descriptions, which are regarded as playing important roles in the success of a technology project. It fits the broader use of the GDS reuse agenda.

There is also extra detail on commercial behaviours, based on a growing understanding of issues such as why people buy technology that does not fulfil its function.

14 elements

Meanwhile, much of the new code is familiar from the previous version, with the 14 key points being:

  • Define user needs, aims and capabilities.
  • Use open stands to make things interoperable.
  • Improve transparency by making data open by default, ensuring users of services have control of the data held about them, and giving equal consideration to free or open source software.
  • Keep all data secure, using guidance such as that from CESG on information risk management and the Security Classification Policy.
  • Follow the Cloud First policy.
  • Ensure that services and systems are accessible to a wide set of users, notably in complying with the EN 301 549 European accessibility standard.
  • Share and reuse services, information, data and software components.
  • Use common government solutions, such as GOV.UK for web publishing and GOV.UK Verify for online identity assurance.
  • Meet the Digital Service Standards.
  • Comply with the Greening Government ICT strategy.
  • Define sourcing strategy, taking in both commercial and technology aspects.
  • Demonstrate an end-to-end service.
  • Use common government sourcing routes, such as the Digital Marketplace.
  • Enter into sensible contracts.

Writing in a blogpost on the launch of the new version, David Mead, technology adviser at GDS, said it still wishes to add to the guidance and has identified two areas for further work: more guidance on cloud adoption; and guidance on how to use APIs as a key component of cross-government services.

He added that work on the issues has already begun and that GDS is inviting contributions.

Image by Andy Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr