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A shared focus: Working together to improve online services

For teams working on improving digital services in government, change is the only constant. We’re used to testing ideas and iterating on them to meet people’s needs. This process of iteration – making adjustments to improve outcomes – can apply not only to how we develop digital products and services, but also to how we organize our teams. Over the past year, we’ve made a lot of changes at CDS and across government to reduce silos, and to ensure the right teams are working together to improve services for people in Canada.  

The merger of two digital-focused teams 

Last summer, the Government announced a new Minister of Citizens’ Services, with a mandate to improve the delivery of public services across government. Following the announcement, CDS moved from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) to Service Canada to support the Minister in this work. Shortly after that move, the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) merged with CDS, to ensure a unified approach to how government information and services are delivered online. 

In this post, we’ll look at the work DTO does and how it supports CDS’s mandate of improving how government designs and delivers services. Our next blog will share more about how CDS and DTO are working together to improve consistency in service delivery across

Meet the DTO team

The Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is the design team for – the official website of the Government of Canada. They provide digital design and content leadership to support a high-quality, consistent GC web experience for users. 

DTO is a small team composed of researchers, designers, developers, and communicators with expertise in content and interaction design, user research, and plain language writing. They work with departments to make information and services published on digital channels easy to find and understand, while ensuring that the brand is recognized and trusted. They also maintain the design system, and support web teams across the GC in implementing it. 

Since joining CDS, the team at DTO has continued to fulfill two very important functions for the Government of Canada’s web presence:

  1. A policy role: setting standards to enable consistent and trusted online brand and high-quality user experience (UX ) across the GC web presence.
  2. A product role: advising departments and enabling continuous improvement of so that people can better find and complete their tasks.

Scaling to improve services

CDS was launched as a pilot project in 2017 within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS). Starting out as a team of 30, with a mandate to change how government designs and delivers services, CDS has grown to include over 200 employees from coast to coast. In the past 7 years, we’ve helped hundreds of GC teams improve user experience and accelerate project timelines in support of federal service priorities, through partnerships and the development of digital products that solve common service problems.  

With DTO joining CDS, the stage is set for product and policy teams to work together with web teams across the GC to deliver seamless, secure online services for people in Canada. Bringing these two teams “under one roof” is a major step towards designing and delivering a unified GC Design System. This will reduce duplication, provide cohesive guidance, and make it faster and easier for public servants to publish web content that’s easy to find and understand.  

We’ll share more about how the teams are working to make this happen in our next blog post. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to learn how you can get involved, please get in touch.