Contacting the Digital Assurance Office

If you are launching a new digital public service or redesigning an existing service, it needs to go through the different stages of the Digital First Service Standard assessment.

The Digital Assurance Office are there to support you whenever you need it.

Contact them at before you start work on the new service to let them know what you are planning.

Before the assessment

The service team needs to consider all 22 criteria and present evidence in the presentation.

Assessors should get in touch with the service team before the assessment.

Assessors will learn about the service by speaking to the service team about:

  • the context of the service
  • the makeup of the team
  • what’s went well so far
  • future challenges

At the assessment

How they work

The service team should walk the assessors around their office and their wall (if they have one) to show how they work. They should demonstrate where they’ve collaborated with policy teams, technical specialists and users.

The level of detail needed during the assessment will depend on the phase of development.

The panel will be supportive during the assessment - it should feel more like a two-way conversation than an exam.

Phase of development

At discovery, the service team will need to give evidence for the criteria that cover:

  • user research
  • service design
  • composition of the service team
  • technology decisions
  • the approach to iterative/agile development

The service team will only have to explain what the plan is for the other criteria.

At alpha and beta phases, the service team will need to have clear evidence for all 22 criteria.

The presentation

The Service Manager leads a detailed presentation on the work done to reach the assessment with the presentation covering all 22 criteria. Other members of the service team should lead on their area of expertise.

Focus the presentation on the three different clusters of criteria:

  • user - show you have completed detailed user research, provided evidence and show a clear audit trail back to your research findings
  • technology - explain what is being used and why this is the best approach
  • business aspects - demonstrate you have the right people involved and explain how the team will adapt as the project moves forward

Some other tips to think about when preparing for the presentation:

  • explain what you are doing and make it real - use examples of how users are currently experiencing difficulties and what you have done or plan to do about it
  • be clear on what the problem is and what you are trying to solve
  • explain who the affected service users are - how have you identified the problem and engaged with real users
  • show an understanding of the service design process
  • explain the technology approach, for instance include how Value Chain/Wardley Maps have helped identify options
  • remember to include the hosting arrangement

The assessors will ask questions during the presentation so it feels like a conversation.

The assessor panel

The assessors will listen and question the service team to understand the work done and the outcomes. This is how they decide if the service has met the standard.

They will also identify any constraints or dependencies that may impact on the next phase.

Assessors cover:

  • Technology
  • User research
  • Assisted digital
  • Product
  • Content design
  • Performance

After the assessment

All assessors will provide feedback for the report and the Lead Assessor will send it to the Digital Assurance Office shortly after the assessment. In the report, the assessors will make a recommendation for the outcome of the assessment.

This will be reviewed by the Digital Assurance Office and then the report will be sent to the service team.

The implications of the outcome of the assessment will be explained to the service team.