The government has laid out its strategy for all public facing services to be digital by default, a promise it made in its Civil Service Reform Plan back in June.
The aim of the strategy is to deliver public services online or by other digital means, to both improve service quality and convenience for citizens and to deliver savings.
The strategy will make it easier for citizens to do things like pay their car tax, book driving tests, complete tax returns, or apply for their state pension online, the government said.
According to the Government Digital Strategy and Digital Efficiency report by the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, departments can save up to £1.2bn by 2015 by making everyday transactions digital, and £1.7bn a year beyond 2015.
"Digital services are much more convenient because they can be accessed whenever you want them. They are also much more efficient, saving taxpayers' money and the user's time," said Maude.
"Online transactions can be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than face-to-face, and up to 50 times cheaper than by post."
According to the report, the government's 650 public services consist of over a billion different transactions, but many of these are not digital. Those that are digital are under-used and need to be redesigned.
Under the new strategy, every government department will have to appoint a digital leader on their executive boards and completely redesign all services that have over 100,000 transactions a year.
These redesigned services will need to meet a ‘digital by default service standard' after April 2014.
Seven of the biggest Whitehall departments are to be the first undertaking the service redesign: HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Transport, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Home Office.
Each of these departments will have to identify three significant services, which have over 100,000 transactions a year, for digital transformation.
Mike Bracken, Government Digital Service executive director, led the development of the strategy.
"This is the first time that the Government has produced a strategy in this way, a truly digital document which reflects our ambitions and signals a clear roadmap for working with departments to help them achieve the goals set out in this strategy," he said.
The digital by default strategy was first put forward by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox in 2010, with the report Directgov 2010 and Beyond: Revolution Not Evolution.
In the report she said shifting 30 per cent of government service delivery contracts to digital channels has the potential to deliver gross annual savings of more than £1.3bn, rising to £2.2bn if 50 per cent of contacts are shifted to digital.
In response to Fox's report, the government has already launched a single domain for government services, GOV.UK. As part of this the government claims it has now closed 27 redundant websites since June, with a reduction of 74 overall over the last year.
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