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Written Statement - Establishing an external Digital Panel

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Julie James, Leader of the House and Chief Whip
The last two decades have seen huge changes in the way digital technology has touched our lives.  From online banking to the provision of news; from the growth of social media to shopping and healthcare, the way we work and play continues to be transformed.  As a Welsh Government it is crucial that we are using our devolved powers to support our communities, our businesses and our public services to react, to adapt and to take advantage of these important digital changes.

The challenges cut across every Welsh Government department and through the Data and Digital Group that I Chair, I have an important role, working with Welsh Government’s Chief Digital Officer, in helping coordinate and support the work we are doing across portfolios to meet these challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.  

My colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport last year published the Economic Action Plan to help future-proof our economy for the challenges ahead and through the review being undertaken by Professor Phil Brown we are looking at the impacts on the workforce in Wales of digital innovation. The Welsh Language Technology Action Plan, published by the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning this week also creates opportunities.

A key part of our work is to help our public services prepare for this digital transformation - to improve services for our citizens, drive down costs and improve productivity.  That is why I am pleased today to announce that I have asked Lee Waters, AM for Llanelli, to lead on the establishment of an external Digital Panel.

The panel is designed to complement the work that is already going on and to provide both advice and challenge on improving our public services through the better use of digital technologies. The panel will help test digital transformation opportunities and projects across the Welsh public sector, providing insight and recommendations into how they can be developed.  

Once the panel is set up, the next step will be to develop a full work plan.  I believe it is important the panel considers how we can promote both successes and learning from what has not gone so well. To begin, I am proposing a short piece of work is initiated to gain insight into existing digital developments across Wales and beyond.  

I will work with my colleagues across government, with initial emphasis on supporting the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething AM and Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies AM on the work they are undertaking.

Officials in the Office of the Chief Digital Officer (OCDO) are helping to facilitate access to the relevant teams across Welsh Government and will provide administrative support to get this work off the ground quickly.

Members of the panel supporting the Chair will be announced in due course and will be appointed to bring expertise and experience of public services and digital transformation from across Wales and the UK.

This work will support Welsh Government to assess our progress to date and to plan our next steps on this challenging agenda. I will report back to members on progress over the coming months.