Today, we are building on a long history of innovation and collaboration on digital technologies with the United Kingdom. The President and Prime Minister Cameron just announced a commitment to strengthen and expand the ongoing digital partnership between our two countries. Both countries have made real progress in working to improve how our governments use digital services to better serve citizens and businesses, and to build a stronger digital economy. We will expand our already existing collaborations in these areas as well as continue to support open data and open government initiatives for our own countries as well as for all countries.
U.S.-U.K. innovation and collaboration on digital technology dates back to WWII, when both countries were in need of extraordinary amounts of mathematical computation capacity. Teams from both countries did the seminal work that created modern digital computing. Breakthrough work included the United Kingdom’s Bletchley Park code breakers, the ENIAC ballistics calculation advances in the United States, and many other groundbreaking programs in both countries.
The U.S. and U.K. have also been ongoing innovators of open government and open data; from very early releases and collaborations on weather and mapping data to full data portals now hosted at the United Kingdom’s data.gov.uk, and data.gov in the United States, which host hundreds of thousands of government data sets released to the public. And for decades, United States and United Kingdom innovators have been at the forefront of including children in learning computer coding – from early work at Dartmouth to MIT Media Lab’s Seymour Papert’s seminal work on Logo in the 1970s and 80s, to the UK’s BBC Micro from Acorn, a computer designed with an emphasis on education created during those same early years.
Each of us, personally, has our own digital history with the United Kingdom:
“This shared digital history is personally powerful to me because of my own connection to it: as a young student in England during the 1950's, my father fell in love with these new digital gizmos, learning to "program" them by changing out transistors and watching what would happen next. He followed this passion to MIT and a graduate degree in electrical engineering ("computer science" hadn't been invented yet). The magic of those machines never left him - he went to work for IBM and then started a technology company headquartered in New York and London that he still runs today.” – Office of Management and Budget Director, Shaun Donovan
“I learned about the deep U.S.-U.K. digital history through many years of joining the Silicon Valley Comes to the U.K. events held in London each November. This is an annual program to bring together the two country’s tech /entrepreneurship communities --- it was during a session at 10 Downing where I first learned of the U.K.’s Lady Ada Lovelace, who is often referred to as the world’s first programmer. This started my personal work to uncover the lost history of technical women and minorities. At another session, Dr. Sue Black first told me about Bletchley Park– the subject of the new film ‘The Imitation Game’ celebrating the work of WWII code breaking heroes including Alan Turing, Joan Clarke, and others. Our chance meeting kicked off collaboration to help secure that museum’s future and further teamwork with Code.org and others on coding skills for youth and adults in both countries.” – U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith
The next stage of the U.S.-U.K. partnership will focus on three core efforts:
Both countries have already stepped up their efforts in this area, learning from each other’s best practices. In 2011, the United Kingdom created the Government Digital Service (GDS), a centralized group of digital experts who have vastly improved citizen experiences when using government digital services. This team has worked to make public services digital by default, simpler, less costly, and faster to use.
In the United States, we recently launched the U.S. Digital Service, a small group of highly skilled tech experts who are working with agencies to improve their citizen-facing digital services and hire their own embedded team of highly skilled digital service leaders. In addition, GSA, the home of 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 a design-centric, agile, open, and data-driven way.
Together, our two countries can continue to be leaders in all of these arenas. We look forward to further collaboration, which now also includes sharing code through the best-practice of open source. Next up, Mikey Dickerson, and members of his U.S. Digital Service team, alongside other innovators across the U.S. government, will head to the United Kingdom in coming months to continue the teamwork with the U.K. GDS. Meanwhile, it has been a pleasure to host the United Kingdom leadership and some of the digital team here in the United States this week.
Shaun Donovan is the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Megan Smith is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
U.S.-U.K. DIGITAL GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP:
Advancing our Nations’ Digital Services and Building Strong Digital Economies
Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron committed to continuing the decades-long collaboration between our two nations on advancing digital technologies. This collaboration has already allowed our countries to make significant strides in upgrading government’s technology infrastructure and capacity to deliver services in order to build stronger digital economies.
As digital technologies reshape the global economy, countries will increasingly depend on the free flow of information and data, a high-quality digital infrastructure, and public servants with the skills to drive innovation and deliver critical services and benefits to citizens. The United Kingdom and the United States have made a commitment over the last few years to increase the effectiveness of government digital service delivery, open up government data for public use, and increase public access to technology. Today’s announcement builds on that partnership by:
The rich partnership between our nations on digital technologies dates back to World War II, when both countries were in need of extraordinary amounts of computation capacity. Together, teams from both countries did the ground-breaking work that created modern digital computing. In the coming months, we will agree to a Memorandum of Understanding to solidify this exciting opportunity and strengthen and enhance our longstanding partnership to transform the way governments deliver for our citizens.
BUILDING ON PAST PROGRESS
Digital Service Delivery
Open Government/Open Data
Next Generation: Coding at School, Connectivity and Tech Entrepreneurship