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UK, US step up collaboration on digital technologies, services and skills

Author: Adrian Offerman

The UK and the USA have agreed to step up collaboration on digital technologies between the two countries. They will work together on improving digital public services, opening up government data, and teaching young people how to program and other digital skills. This intensified partnership was announced two weeks ago by British Prime Minister David Cameron after a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Last month, the UK hosted the first summit of the D5 group, which aims to strengthen the digital economy through the principle of openness. The USA is not among the five founding member countries but it did attend as an observer.

Next stage

In a White House blog, Shaun Donovan, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, refer to a long history of innovation and collaboration on digital technologies with the UK. For example, in weather and mapping data, which have now grown into full data portals, data.gov.uk and data.gov, and in teaching children how to program computers. The next stage of the US-UK partnership will focus on three core efforts:

  1. improving how government delivers digital services to citizens;
  2. continuing global open government efforts through the Open Government Partnership (OGP; on Wikipedia), which enhances government openness, transparency, accountability and responsiveness; and
  3. training the next generation of digital experts and expanding the reach of broadband Internet access.

Following the example of the British Government Digital Service (GDS), created in 2011, the USA last summer launched its own Digital Service to improve its e-government services. The two agencies will share and possibly re-use each other's code by making all software available as open source. In addition, the General Services Administration (GSA), responsible for usa.gov, data.gov and many other federal websites, has built its own digital service team named 18F, which is working with more than a dozen agencies to help them deliver on their missions digitally in an open and data-driven way.