UK GovCamp 2023

On Saturday 21st January, Public Digital attended Govcamp 2023 in central London.

Govcamp is an open space ‘unconference’ with no preset agenda. Ideas for sessions are pitched on the day by those who attend, and attendance is open to anyone interested in digital within the public sector. It follows similar principles to UKHealthCamp, which Public Digital were also proud to support last year.

The famous Govcamp grid of sessions (image: PD’s Francis Bacon)

We were delighted to spend the day with such an incredible group of people. As always, we were struck by the real sense of community, the thoughtful, hard (and often invisible) work happening in public sector transformation, and how spaces like GovCamp are essential for bringing together peers to learn from - and with - each other.

For many of the attendees, this was their first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. It was an opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with friends and strike up new collaborations. Many people were there to speak one-to-one with like minded individuals (affectionately known as ‘corridor camp’), as well as to attend the sessions.

It was wonderful for us to see that this community hasn't fizzled out over such a long (and for many, a challenging) time apart. Those networks are just as strong as they always were.

And unlike last year, where most of the conversations we had at GovCamp were around exhaustion, burn-out, and ways to care for ourselves and our teams, we sensed this year that people were refreshed and ready to get excited again about a bigger cause: public sector reform.

Many of the sessions featured discussions on areas that Public Digital know well and advocate for in our work. These included topics like the human side of change, user-centred transformation, aligning policy, delivery and operations, and focusing-on outcomes. Sessions also discussed multidisciplinary teams, authentic engagement, turning ministers and senior leaders into advocates, inclusive services, and long-lived teams.

Likewise, the focus of the sessions we attended had much in common with the Public Digital positions. They were optimistic and pragmatic, they emphasised community and teams, public purpose and desire to have impact at scale. Diversity and inclusion, as well as the importance of working in the open were key themes running through the discussions.

Public Digital’s knowledge base and values are closely aligned with those at GovCamp, and that is no coincidence. Nor is the fact that many of our people and experts are rooted in this ambitious and committed community.

Leading and delivering the hard, human work of digital transformation is never easy. So it was heartening to be reminded that this community is such a large and thriving one.

Thank you to the Govcamp organisers and campmakers for running such a fantastic day!

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