Video Q&A: John Suffolk, UK government chief information officer

On delivering more for less and developing IT skills for the future
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Earlier this year, a major review identified the potential to reduce public sector IT spending by £7.2bn from a total of £16bn, with better management information and governance of change programmes.

Conversely, £100bn in government IT spending is planned for the next five years, but it must be remembered that most public sector IT projects don't get past the planning stage with only 30 per cent being actualised according to research from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

Despite public sector technology being heavily outsourced, UK government chief information officer John Suffolk does not believe the abysmal record of IT project delivery in the public sector is down to poor supplier management skills.

“Change is getting incredibly hard as people are demanding a lot more for less. But that has nothing to do with the skills or experience of people. The issue is, as we demand more from technology, software has become more sophisticated and more complicated as a result,” Suffolk told Computing in this video interview.

In this interview, the government CIO gives his thoughts on the systems integrators and software suppliers that have been central to the many public sector IT blunders reported over the past few years.

The pressure on public sector IT to deliver is now greater than ever. Suffolk added: “everyone is very aware of the country’s financial position and technology will have to make its contribution to cost savings.”

Suffolk also discusses how technology changes and an increasingly globalised IT environment will reflect on the skills needed by IT leaders of the future.

John Higgins, director-general at IT trade body Intellect also participates in the interview and gives his views around the similarities and different challenges in developing skills within the public and private sector.

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