Government Digital Service Podcast

Government Digital Service Podcast #26: GDS Quiz 2020

December 30, 2020

Vanessa Schneider: 

Hello and welcome to the Government Digital Service podcast. My name is Vanessa Schneider and I am Senior Channels and Community Manager at GDS. Today, we are looking back as fondly as we can on 2020. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this was a momentous year and we have many reasons to be proud of what our organisation and our colleagues have achieved. 

 

What better way to reflect on the year than to ask a couple of my colleagues to put their knowledge to the test? We're going to see who has been paying attention to GDS happenings in 2020. Please welcome my guests Louise Harris and Kit Clark.

 

Louise Harris: 

Hey, Vanessa, good to be here.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Great to have you on, Lou. Do you mind telling us what you do at GDS and to spice things up a little bit for the end of the year, maybe a fun fact about yourself?

 

Louise Harris: 

Sure. Well, of course, we know each other very well, Vanessa, because I have the pleasure of working with you in the Creative Team. But for everybody else, I'm Lou and I head up the Channels and Creative Team at GDS. I'm a relatively new starter - I'm one of our lockdown joiners because I joined in May 2020. In terms of a fun fact, it may surprise some of you given my accent to know that I'm a fluent Welsh speaker.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

You sou-I-do you sound very Welsh? You know what? We've got to put it to the test. Can you tell me what the team is called that you work for in Welsh? 

 

Louise Harris: 

Ok, this is something I think I can do. So I'll give you my intro again in Welsh. Louise Harris dw’ i, a rwy’n gweithio yn y Tim Creadigol a Sianeli yng Ngwasanaeth Digidol y Llywodraeth.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Ok, anybody who knows Welsh, you've got to contact us and tell us if she got it right or not. Kit, would you mind introducing yourself? 

 

Kit Clark: 

Sure. My name's Kit, I'm an Engagement Manager within the Strategic Engagement Function. An interesting fact I suppose about myself, is that my uncle composed the Eastenders theme tune. So that's something I always, always bring out in introductions.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

I was warned that your interesting fact would be amazing. And I think it does live up to that disclaimer. I think that is a very, very fun fact indeed.

 

Louise Harris: 

I was not warned that your fun fact was going to be as good Kit, I'm so impressed by that. What a claim to fame.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

I think I might just start with the quiz. Of course, if you're at home, you can play along if you like. Just make sure to keep score as you go, as I'll be sharing the answer after each question.

 

So let's start with the first question of the quiz. 

 

Here it is: what was the most popular GDS podcast episode in 2020? So what topic do you think was in the most popular episode? I'll take that as an answer. 

 

[horn noise] 

 

Louise Harris: 

I'm presuming that we're excluding this episode from the list of most popular ones, so it's the most popular one before this one, right? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Yes. I'm afraid we don't have any foresight, so it'll have to be one from January to November. 

 

Louise Harris: 

OK, well I think we've had some really great guests and different people from across government this year. The big one has got to be the GOV.UK response to Coronavirus and setting up the Coronavirus landing page - I think that was such a big achievement, both in terms of the work that was done to get that product up and out, but also for you folks over here on the podcast, because I believe that was the first remote recorded podcast that we did.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Hmm. Any thoughts, Kit? Any competing offers?

 

Kit Clark: 

Not too sure. I know that accessibility's been quite a theme this year, and I believe that was in January. But I also know there was a couple of celebration ones - there was one looking at two years of Local Digital Declaration. So I think I might I go, I think COVID's a great shot but I'm going to go different and go accessibility. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Alright. So there are some pretty solid guesses with both of you. Well done. I can reveal that the third most popular episode was in fact our accessibility episode. Good hunch there Kit. Second most popular was about the GOV.UK Design System. But indeed in first place, most popular episode this year was on the GOV.UK response to COVID-19. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Wahoo!

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Points go to Lou on that. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Alright. So GDS has run a lot of stories this year. My second question is about the blog and which post attracted the most attention?

 

[horn noise] 

 

Louise Harris: 

This is a really tricky one because I think we've had so many good stories go out this year about the work that GDS has been doing across government. And of course, so much of what we do is used by our colleagues in the public sector. So there's often a lot of interest in what we have to say, which is great.

 

I mean, a big moment for me this year was our Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebrations where we were joined by thousands of people who came together to talk about digital accessibility and the work that we needed to do. So I feel like maybe the wrap up blog that we did about that, which had all of the links to the training webinars, I feel like that might be pretty popular. And even if it wasn't the most popular, it was definitely my favourite. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Yeah, I, I can reveal to you that the third most popular post this year introduced GOV.UK Accounts. 

 

Louise Harris: 

How could we forget? That was such a big story. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Well, you might want to hold onto that thought. It could just help you later in the quiz. Our second most popular post described the launch of our online Introduction to Content Design course. Content Design, hugely popular. I think we might have done a podcast episode about that. Finally, I can reveal our most popular post in 2020 explained how GOV.UK Notify reliably sends text messages to users. 

 

Let's go on to our next question. As a bit of a preamble GDS leads the Digital, Data and Technology Function in government, which is also known as the DDaT Function. And we believe firmly in user-centred design, hint hint - keywords. So there are several job families in DDaT, but can you tell me how many job roles feature in the user-centred design family? 

 

[buzzer noise] 

 

Kit Clark: 

There's seven.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

You seem pretty sure about that. On a dare, could you name all of them?

 

Kit Clark: 

I hope so because I've had some training on it relatively recently. So in the user centred design family, there's the user researcher, content strategist, the technical writer, and then there's the content design, graphic design, service design, and the interaction design.

 

Louise Harris: 

Wow, hats off Kit. I had a feeling it was like about seven roles, but I don't think I could have named them. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

I am, I am very impressed. You gotta make sure that that team doesn't poach you away from us now. For those of you following along at home, you can find out more in the DDaT Capability Framework which is hosted on GOV.UK. 

 

And as it happens, we actually spoke to some content designers earlier in the year. So we're going to play a clip. 

 

----------

[clip begins]

Laura Stevens: 

So GDS is actually the home of content design in the government too as the term and the discipline originated here under GDS’s first Head of Content Design, Sarah Richards. And why do you think it came out of the early days of GDS?

 

Amanda Diamond: 

So really good question. And I think it is really useful for us to pause and reflect and look back sometimes upon this, because it's not, you know, content design, as you said, it came from, as a discipline it came from GDS.

 

So really, it only started to emerge around 2010, so 2010, 2014. So in the grand scheme of things, as a discipline, it is very young. And so it's still evolving and it's still growing. And so back in the early 2000s, before we had GOV.UK, we had DirectGov. And alongside that, we had like hundreds of other government websites. So it was, it was a mess really because users had to really understand and know what government department governed the thing that they were looking for. 

 

So what GOV.UK did was we brought websites together into a single domain that we now know of as GOV.UK. And that was a massive undertaking. And the reason for doing that was was simple. It was, it was to make things easier for users to access and understand, make things clearer and crucially to remove the burden on people to have to navigate and understand all of the structures of government. 

 

So back in the early days, GOV.UK, GDS picked I think it was around, I think it was the top 25 services in what was known as the Exemplar Programme. I think things like that included things that Register to Vote, Lasting Power of Attorney, Carer's Allowance. And so I think through that process, we, we, we discovered that it actually wasn't really about website redesign, it was more about service design. 

 

And that's where content design and service design, interaction design and user research kind of came together under this banner of user centred design because you can't have good services without content design essentially. 

[clip ends]

----------

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Alright on to our next quiz question. So at GDS, we like to talk about “build it once, use it often”, and are responsible for a number of amazing products and services as part of our Government as a Platform or GaaP offer. Many of our products have been put through their paces during the coronavirus response and have hit some impressive milestones in the last 12 months. 

 

I'm going to award 2 points in total. It's a 2-part question, so I'll ask the first part first. So how many messages had GOV.UK Notify sent as of the beginning of December?

 

[buzzer noise] 

 

Kit Clark: 

Is it two billion? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Oooh, ok.

 

Yes, Notify has sent more than 2 billion messages as of the beginning of this month. As you buzzed in first, I will give you first right of refusal. How long did it take Notify to send its first and second billion messages? 

 

Kit Clark: 

I'm going to pass it over to Lou and see, see what she knows about Notify?

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Very gentlemanly.

 

Louise Harris: 

I'm really glad that Kit kicked this over to me because I remember seeing one of our colleagues, Pete Herlihy's tweet, which said that it took them a full 4 years to send the first one billion messages, but it only took them 6 months to send the second billion, which is an absolutely incredible achievement for Notify, and has shown just the kind of pace that that team's been working at. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Truly is an incredible number. But Notify has really had a big year. And Pete Herlihy actually shared some of Notify's story in our May episode of the podcast. Let's have a listen. 

 

----------

[clip begins]

Laura Stevens:

But to talk specifically about Notify, they, in the blog post it’s talking about this huge increase in numbers, like 2 million SMS messages were sent using Notify on a single day in March compared to the daily average of 150,000. I’ve also got a figure here of daily messages up as much as 600%, as high as 8.6 million a day. 

 

So what services are using Notify to help with the government’s coronavirus response?

 

Pete Herlihy: 

Yeah, there, so the, the increase in communication is obviously massive and needs to be. And one of the biggest users of Notify is the GOV.UK email service, and they, they do all of the email for people who subscribe to any content that the government publishes - so travel alerts for example, if you want to know can I take a flight to Namibia, here’s the guidance, or if there’s hurricanes coming through the Caribbean and these countries are affected, then I need to like push out information to say don’t go to these places, or whatever it might be. 

 

And those alerts are, you know, again potentially protecting people, life and property - they’re like really important. And there’s been a huge amount of travel advice and alerts being given, as, as you can imagine. So that’s been one of the biggest users. 

 

And then I think, from, from the health perspective there’s, I’ll just say NHS because there’s like various bits of the NHS that are working like ridiculously hard and fast to spin out new services really quickly, and these services are like just incredibly crucial right now. 

 

So the extremely vulnerable service, this is one where the government said if you are you know, in this extreme risk category you should stay at home for 12 weeks, and they’ve been texting this group of people.

 

There’s all the stuff around testing and results for testing, ordering home test kits, all these sorts of things. So there’s the very specific COVID response type stuff and that is, there is a significant volume of that that’s still ongoing.

 

It all came very quickly as well. You know this wasn’t a gradual ramp up over weeks and weeks to 5,6,700%, it was, it was almost overnight.

[clip ends]

----------

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Ok, I feel like this has been a bit too easy. So I thought about making the next 2 tricky and then I thought I was being too mean. So they are again connected questions, but they will be multiple choice this time. So again, if you buzz in for the first one, you get first dibs at the second question as well. So on 20 March, the GOV.UK Team shipped the Coronavirus landing page, which established a critical central source of guidance and information for people across the UK. But do you know how many days it took to go from concept to live? 

 

Was it A, less than 5 days, B, less than 12 days or C, less than 15 days?

 

[horn noise] 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Lou. 

 

Louise Harris: 

I think it was less than five days.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Alright. That is correct. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Wahoo.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

In fact it was only 4 and a half days. We had Markland Starkie and Leanne Cummings join us on the podcast in April to explain how we did this and what effect it had.

 

----------

[clip begins]

Markland Starkie: 

The thing that the landing page I suppose was able to do over and above the standard solution was really to bring together, in a more consolidated fashion, wider signposts to existing and new content across government. It also allows us the flexibility to redesign or extend or iterate on that landing page at pace, which we’ve been able to do in the, in the week since. So that’s based on ongoing research into the landing page and insights to move certain content around, add certain content that was missing in the first instance, and remove content that’s not working, all of those things.

 

Laura Stevens:

And was also, one of the reasons why it’s been able to be built quickly and iterated quickly, is we’re using other GDS tools that already exist, for example the GOV.UK Design System. Is that, was that, has been part of it as well? 

 

Markland Starkie:

Oh absolutely, yes. So without those things in place, like the Design System that you’ve mentioned, this would take weeks and weeks. So we’ve been able to take existing patterns, modify them where needed to. So being able to bring in elements whilst using existing patterns to really like kind of push it through at pace.

[clip ends]

----------

 

Kit Clark: 

I mean, I personally still find it incredible that things went from conception to actually delivering in such a short span of time. It’s incredible I personally think. And also when you're talking with such high stake products as well. You know, this is a time when the nation was looking for trusted sources of information about what they could do to keep themselves and their families safe. So it's just an incredible body of work to have done. And not only that, but also in true GDS style, they were keeping the user at the centre throughout the whole process. So I believe the Coronavirus landing page was the first landing page that we designed to be mobile first because we recognised that was where our users were going to be accessing that information. So in addition to delivering some incredible services and information at a pace we’ve probably never had to do before, we’re also continually iterating and innovating to give people the best possible experience on the site. I think there's so much to be proud of. And just really hats off to GOV.UK. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

So you've earned yourself the right to answer the next question first. GOV.UK receives thousands upon thousands of visits every day, but in a week in March, it experienced a peak of how many visits? Was it A, 2 million, was it B, 67 million or was it C, 132 million?

 

Louise Harris: 

Ok, so it was back in March, so that is kind of peak COVID times. I think it's got to be 132 million. It must be. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

You are officially on a roll. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Wooo.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Yes, the answer to the second question is 132 million. Although that is probably an underestimate as our analytics only count users who accept cookies that measure the website use. So the true figures are likely even higher, as Jen Allum explained in a blog post on the topic. So visit gds.blog.gov.uk to check that nugget out. 

 

Onto our next question. GOV.UK Pay has also had a busy year and last month we celebrated some recent milestones with them on this podcast. What were they? 

 

[horn noise]

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

All right, Lou.

 

Louise Harris: 

I think it's been a really exciting time for Pay over the last couple of months. And I know that we spoke to them on a recent podcast, so I think that the milestone you're looking for is that they've onboarded their 400th service. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Well, I'm sorry, Lou, but that was only half the answer I was looking for. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Oh no.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Kit, it's your chance. Do you want to score another half point maybe? 

 

Kit Clark:

I believe they processed half a billion pounds since their inception. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Well done. That is spot on. And together, those two factoids make a pretty sweet nugget - that was so cheesy. But yeah, it's, it's incredible. And they only started in 2015. So that's an amazing number of services and sum of payments to process. 

 

So my next question for you both is that we were also very busy on the GOV.UK Twitter account this year and saw a huge spike in users coming to us with queries and looking for support. That is something that I actually blogged about back in May. But can you tell me as a percentage how much our engagement increased on our posts? Was it 12,500%? Was it 150% or was it 700%? And for a bonus, can you tell me to the nearest 100,000 how many people are following the GOV.UK Twitter account right now? 

 

[buzzer noise]

 

Kit Clark: 

I want to go with the 12, 12 and a half. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

All right, Kit, I can confirm that you are right. Do you want to, do you want to try and punt for the bonus point? Do you reckon you've got that?

 

Kit Clark: 

Yeah, I’ll go for it. I think the GOV.UK Twitter account has got around 1.2 million people following it. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Oh, you are so close. I'm going to give you a half point. It's 1.8 million. And I have to say, it's been a real whirlwind of a year because of that. So we completely changed the way that we approach community management, responding to people. Lou I think you oversaw the project, what did you think? 

 

Louise Harris: 

Well, I think it certainly felt like we experienced a 12,000% increase in engagement, and I know that you, Vanessa, and so many of our colleagues over in Comms have been working really, really hard to make sure that we get back to the, frankly, thousands of people who come via the GOV.UK Twitter account every day looking for advice and signposting to guidance on the GOV.UK website. So it's been a phenomenal year. You've all done a phenomenal job and I think you've got lots to be proud of.

 

Vanessa Schneider:

That's very kind of you to say. I wasn't really fishing for compliments, but I'll take them anyway. 

 

You can actually find out a little bit about how we tackle that, as I mentioned in the blog post I wrote. But we've also put out our Social Media Playbook earlier this year. We've made an update and it just talks about the kind of things that we've been considering over the course of the year. It includes updates on accessibility, security and very important in this time of year, mental health.

 

Louise Harris: 

I think that's a really important point, Vanessa, because so often in digital comms, people think about the technology, but not the people behind that technology who are using it day in, day out. So I was really pleased when we were able to include that section on wellbeing in our GDS Social Media Playbook. And it's just another example of that GDS mentality of build once, use many. So we created that as a resource to share how we do things and what we're learning and what's working for us. And we just hope that that's a useful tool that our colleagues across government can put into practise as well.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

All right. I think we've got some points to pick up on this next question. Earlier this year, we launched the Data Standards Authority with our friends and counterparts over at ONS, which is the Office for National Statistics and DCMS, which is the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. You’ll hear from our former Director General Alison Pritchard now who explains a little bit more about the DSA. 

 

----------

[clip begins]

Alison Pritchard:

Government holds considerable volumes of data in a myriad of places. But often this data is inconsistent, incomplete or just unusable. If the government is going to realise the benefits data can bring, we'll need to fix the foundations. And one way of doing this is by focussing on data standards. 

 

GDS is leading a new authority, the Data Standards Authority (DSA), that focuses on making data shareable and accessible across government services. The metadata standards and guidance we published in August were our first deliverable. They cover what information should be recorded when sharing data across government - for example in spreadsheets - to assure it's standardised and easy to use. It's a step in quality assuring how government data is shared. Our focus on standards is one part of the bigger picture around better managing data to assure better policy outcomes and deliver more joined-up services to citizens. 

[clip ends]

----------

 

Vanessa Schneider:

So now, you know what the DSA is. Have your pens at the ready. I'm going to read out a series of letters that relate to the DSA that I would like you to unscramble. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Oooh, ok. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Alright. 

 

So it's T-E-M-A-T-A-A-D. Those are the letters, 8 of them. 

 

Louise Harris: 

I find these so difficult. I'm so rubbish at these. 

 

[buzzer noise] 

 

Kit Clark: 

I think I've got the letters written down right in my dyslexia mind might not be playing in my favour here but is it Data Team?

 

Vanessa Schneider:

Oh, I would love that. That is a great one. And it makes use of the right letters. It's not the answer I'm looking for unfortunately. It has to be about the Data Standards Authority.

 

Louise Harris: 

Oh, ok. I don't think I would have got this had Kit not unscrambled half of it. But if it's not Data Team, is it metadata? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

We've got a winner here. That's right. I'm not going to repeat the letters. It definitely spells out, if you get them in the right order, metadata.

 

So Kit do you mind sharing with our listeners what metadata is? 

 

Kit Clark: 

I realised that I was going for speed over quality in that answer and Data Team is a bit of an overly simplistic answer. Metadata is correct me if I'm wrong, but actually data that provides insight into other data, it's a little bit inception. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Other Leo films are available. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Spot on. Yep, that's right. 

 

Last month, so that's November, we blogged about the Document Checking Service pilot that is running until next summer. And there's still a number of points up for grabs here.

 

So let's see who's been paying attention. What does the Document Checking Service let you do?

 

[buzzer noise]

 

Kit Clark: 

So the Document Checking Service is a project to see whether organisations outside government can use real time passport checks to build useful digital services. 

 

Vanessa Schneider:

Oh, I will score that as right. So it is great that we've got this pilot underway, especially considering that a lot of people are working remotely right now, given that individuals can provide their details without needing to go any place in person to prove their identity. 

 

All right. So now we're onto a topic that both of you've already broached. So I'm confident we're going to get some points to some people here. In May 2020, we celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day by running a series of webinars and talks to help prepare public sector organisations for a forthcoming accessibility regulations deadline. Can you tell me what deadline we were building up to?

 

[horn noise] 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

All right, Lou, point, a potential point for you.

 

Louise Harris: 

So the most recent deadline, and particularly the one that we were working to for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, or GAAD, would have been the 23rd September 2020, which was the date by which all existing public sector websites and intranets needed to be accessible. 

 

Vanessa Schneider:

 

Yep, that’s right.

 

To hear more about that, we are going to go back in time cheekily to January where we had Chris and Rianna on the podcast telling us a little bit more about public sector duty to accessibility. 

 

----------

[clip begins]

Laura Stevens:

I guess part of this is also thinking like why is it particularly important that government is a leader in accessible services. Like what, why is that so important?

 

Chris Heathcote: 

I mean as you said at the beginning, you know you don’t choose to use government, you have to use government. So you can’t go anywhere else. So it’s, it’s our obligation to make sure that, that everything is accessible to everyone. And it does have to be everyone, and especially those with disabilities, or needing to use assistive technology, tend to have to interact with government more. So we do have an obligation for that.

 

Rianna Fry: 

And I think if you think about it, these are public services. They’re online public services so they need to be able to use, be used by the public not exclusive groups. And I think that’s what it's all about. 

[clip ends]

----------

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

So looking ahead, there is another accessibility regulations deadline coming up. When is it and what is it for? One point to award here. 

 

[buzzer noise]

 

Kit Clark: 

Is it the 23rd of June next year, so 2021? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

That's right. Yes. And what is the deadline for? 

 

Kit Clark: 

And I think it's all mobile apps to become compliant as well. So not just websites.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

That is right. If you are worried about those deadlines, we have some great resources. You can find them on accessibility.campaign.gov.uk. That's not just restricted to the public sector. Accessibility is important to everyone. So please visit. We've got everything you need there. 

 

All right. So we are slowly but surely coming towards the last few questions. GOV.UK is built on the principle that you shouldn't need to know how the government works to use government services. Very prescient. But the way people interact online has changed a lot over the 8 years since GOV.UK launched. Services like shopping, banking or entertainment are increasingly personalised, and that is something that GDS wants to explore for citizens too.

 

In September, we were excited to share our future strategy for GOV.UK Accounts. We think this is important and exciting work that will make it simpler for citizens to interact with government to do the things they need to do. But can either of you tell me how many times will the average individual in the UK visit GOV.UK in a year? Just guess away please, folks, guess away. 

 

[buzzer noise]

 

Kit Clark: 

Is it 400? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

I like the optimism, but also in a weird way, that's pessimistic, isn't it? I'd say it's a, it's a 2- digit number.

 

Kit Clark: 

I doubted myself halfway through that. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

No worries. No worries. Try again. Like cut a zero.

 

Kit Clark: 

Is it around 40 times a year?

 

Louise Harris: 

I think this is a really difficult question because on the one hand, GOV.UK is such an important part of our national infrastructure. I mean, you can do so many things on GOV.UK, you know, you want to renew your car tax, you do it there. You want to check when the next bank holiday is, you do it there. But on the other hand, it's so easy to use that it's almost you're in, you're out. You got what you need. So often, like, I'm trying to think how often I maybe visit it. It's got to be at least like 4 or 5 times a month. So yeah, I think I would maybe land some where where Kit is. 

 

Vanessa Schneider:

That's a really good point, Lou. I think you've just overestimated it a little bit. We’ve done rough calculations and it looks like it’s more like 2 interactions with GOV.UK a month. So according to our rough calculations - it's something like 22 times a year. If you head over to the GDS blog you can see how we reached those numbers.

 

But yeah, it's really hard because obviously there's no competitor to government to provide the services that people need. It's not like you can register your car somewhere else. So we, we have to just try and make this kind of interface, the service, as easy as it can be. So it is painless, you know, that people aren't frustrated with that experience. 

 

And we've come to our final questions of the quiz and we're ending by testing your knowledge of some common words and phrases you’ll hear used in digital government. So a lot of people refer to us as GDS, which stands for the Government Digital Service. But how well do you know other acronyms that we've been throwing around all year long? 

 

Louise Harris: 

Oh, I think Kit is going to have the edge on me here because he does so much cross-government engagement. I think this is where I'm going to really fall down. 

 

Kit Clark: 

Fingers crossed.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

All right. So fingers on buzzers.

 

What is DDaT? 

 

[horn noise]

 

Louise Harris: 

I'm going to get in there with this and an easy, early one. So DDaT is Digital, Data and Technology. And I know that because during my round of welcome coffees on day one, that was the acronym that kept coming up. And people said, if you just get one acronym under your belt today, make it DDaT, because it's so important to the work that GDS does as the Head of the DDaT Profession.

 

Vanessa Schneider:

That is correct.

 

All right. Our next term that we're looking for is Retros.

 

Kit Clark: 

Does it stand for retrospective? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

It's as simple as that. Indeed. So what happens at a retrospective, if you don't mind sharing? 

 

Kit Clark:

So a retro is I think it kind of does what it says on the tin really, where the group that's been working on a project will come together and essentially evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of the work that's just being done to see what could be applied in the future, both in terms of positives as well, and things that could be improved in future, future pieces of work. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Nice. An iterative process. 

 

So obviously there's been a lot of change this year, but I think most of it has maybe been unanticipated. However, what we had been planning for this year is recruiting two leadership positions and I know everyone at GDS is excited about welcoming them in due course. One of them is for CEO of GDS and the other is GCDO. No pressure, given that they'll be your bosses and you don't know, they might even be listening. 

 

But can you tell me for one more point what GCDO stands for? 

 

[buzzer noise]

 

Kit Clark: 

GCDO stands for the Government Chief Digital Officer. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

That is correct. Sorry Lou. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Missed out, too slow.

 

Vanessa Schneider:

The quiz has come to an end. So let me quickly tot up the scores.

 

I hope everyone listening did well and I hope we don't have to go to a tiebreaker. 

 

Louise Harris:

Oh, do you have a tiebreaker? 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

Well, fact is, I won't need a tiebreaker because the winner is Kit. Well done. Congratulations to Kit and commiserations to Lou. You almost had it.

 

Louise Harris:

Kit, a worthy opponent. Very well played.

 

Vanessa Schneider:

So, Kit, finish us off. Why don't you share with us what your highlight of this year has been? Might be tough. It's been a crazy year, but I'm sure you've got something.

 

Kit Clark:

Yeah, it's been a bit of a funny one starting a role completely remotely. I think the the people that I work with have been a definite highlight, but also with this being my first role within the Civil Service and within the public sector, just the kind of confidence of standing on my own two feet and being more confident in the work that I'm doing and getting more responsibility with each passing month is, is a really good feeling. 

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

That is such a lovely thing to say. I'll make sure to pass that on to your colleagues, because, yeah, I really enjoyed that. How about yourself Lou? 

 

Louise Harris: 

Well, I think similar to Kit it's all about the people, so I'm lucky enough to lead the team that's responsible for recording the podcast that you're listening to. And what you folks don't get to see or rather hear is just how much work goes into this each and every month. And of course, earlier this year, the team had to pivot, as so many of us did, to do things differently because recording in the way that we once did would not be safe or within the guidance. So I wanted to say a big shout out to Emily and to Vanessa. So Emily is our Producer, you never hear her here, but she's a big part of the podcast. And also to Laura Stevens, who's one of our old hosts and is now in another part of GDS. And to everybody else that's been involved, because it really is a huge challenge to do this. And I think they do a phenomenal job. So we hope you enjoyed listening and we hope to see you again in the New Year.

 

Vanessa Schneider: 

I don't want to sound like I'm gloating, but actually it's been a really good year for me. I've had a lot of great opportunities come up this year, maybe because of what's changed, you know, and working remotely. But I don't think it's a bad idea to not acknowledge it. I got to write for the blog for the first time at GDS. I presented to the entire organisation, which was simultaneously nerve wracking and thrilling. And I've been able to share my expertise among members of the devolved nations thanks to our National, International and Research Team. So there's a lot to reflect on really positively. I think all of that could not have been done without having a really good team backing me. So I think that's probably my highlight. 

 

Louise Harris: 

Oh, my God. So cute.

 

Vanessa Schneider:

Thank you so much to our guests Lou Harris and Kit Clark for coming on today. We wish all of our listeners a happy New Year and look forward to sharing new episodes with you in 2021. You can listen to all of the episodes of the Government Digital Service podcast on Apple Music, Spotify and all other major podcast platforms. And the transcripts are available on Podbean. Goodbye.

 

Louise Harris: 

Bye folks. 

 

Kit Clark: 

Bye.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App