Computer Weekly // GDS head Mike Bracken on Estonia’s digital services

Mike Bracken, executive director of the Government Digital Service, talked to Computer Weekly about what UK public services could learn from Estonia’s open source model and why a dose of its IT leaders’ humility wouldn’t go amiss in Whitehall.    Estonia has one of the most advanced online public service offerings in the world and is held up in some quarters as a model for the UK’s digital remit. Earlier this year Mike Bracken, head of the Government Digital Service (GDS), spent three days visiting the country, along with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and deputy CIO Liam Maxwell, to see what the UK could learn. One of the biggest differences with Estonia’s thriving open source culture is that licensed software is an almost alien concept, says Bracken. Just 1% of its GDP goes on technology and services, with 0.1% going on software licences – a negligible amount, considering nearly all public services are run to a “digital by default” model, says Bracken. “They are advocates of open source having built the infrastructure of the country using it, and we should learn from that,” Bracken says. Estonia...

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