24 Dec 2008View Comments
The public sector has been in the headlines again this year - from data loss scandals to high-profile problems with major IT projects. We look back at the big government IT stories of 2008.
Calls to scrap youth database - 28 February
The government is under pressure to scrap its planned national children’s database after a report from consultants warning it can never be made totally secure.
The ContactPoint scheme is intended to help childcare professionals, medical staff and teachers share information on vulnerable young people, to stop potential cases slipping through gaps between the different services. The £224m project was launched following the Climbie inquiry.
Whitehall must push green IT - 21 February
The government’s failure to include environmental factors in its technology spending criteria is weakening innovation and slowing progress towards carbon reduction targets, say experts.
With annual IT spending of £14bn, the public sector has significant market influence.
But calls for green procurement guidelines have gone unheeded because they contradict the strict remit of Whitehall buying agency the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to ensure value for money.
A government database that held records of citizens' phone and internet communications would be going a "step too far", according to the UK privacy watchdog.
While acknowledging that the monitoring of communications was important in the fight against crime, information commissioner Richard Thomas said such proposals should not go ahead without proper public and parliamentary debate.
Government to mandate smart meter rollout - 29 October
The government yesterday threw its weight behind proposals for a nationwide roll out of smart meters, announcing that it would mandate that all UK households have the technology by 2020.
Smart meters are widely regarded as an effective means of curbing energy use, providing homeowners with the ability to monitor their energy usage in real time, analyse impact of specific appliances, switch suppliers with greater ease and potentially even programme appliances to turn off when not in use.
Government backs central e-crime unit - 1 October
The government has finally put its weight behind a new centralised police unit tasked with leading a coordinated national response to e-crime.
The proposed Police Central E-crime Unit (PCEU), which has been awaiting funding for over a year, will act as a national coordination centre and work to improve the specialist e-crime skills of police officers in regional forces.
MPs slam MoD loss of 1.7 million records - 14 October
MPs have criticised continuing government incompetence over government data handling practices after it was revealed a missing Ministry of Defence (MoD) hard drive could contain information on as many as 1.7 million individuals.
Armed Forces minister Bob Ainsworth made the admission in a written statement to the Commons, adding that the disk was unlikely to have been encrypted. His estimate is far higher than those originally given for the loss. Officials had placed the potential tally at a modest 100,000 records.
First ID cards are dealt out - 26 November
All foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who successfully apply for an extension to stay in the UK on the basis of marriage, civil partnership or as a student will be required to apply for an ID card from now on.
The standalone card will have a chip that holds a digitised photograph and fingerprint data, alongside biographical information.
ID cards will then be introduced in phases, beginning with a compulsory rollout to airside workers at two UK airports at the beginning of 2009, and a voluntary rollout to young people from 2010.
NHS care record rollout grinds to a halt - 28 October
NHS trusts in London have admitted that they are revising dates to go-live with electronic care records systems after reports that the £12.7bn programme had ground to a halt.
London trusts were reluctant to install care records systems after seeing the significant problems encountered by trusts that had already done so.
And an early adopter site for the care record system in Morecambe Bay was due to go live in June but has failed to do so.
There are no published plans as of yet for when two other early adopter sites in the North of England will go live.
Straw bulks up Information Commissioner powers - 24 November
The Information Commissioner is to be given tougher powers to regulate the Data Protection Act under proposals put forward today by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
The proposals form part of the government's response to the Data Sharing Review, which highlighted serious deficiencies in the handling of citizens' data in central government.
Government has "overstepped" itself on DNA database - 4 December
Two British men who were arrested but not convicted of crimes should have their DNA records removed from the national DNA database, according to the European Court of Human Rights.
The case is likely to provoke a flurry of applications for citizens to have their information removed from the database.
About 500,000 of the 4.5 million people on the UK's DNA database have not been convicted of crimes but had their DNA taken as part of an investigation.
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