Minister admits new government ICT strategy has familiar ring to it

By Computing Staff
30 Mar 2011 View Comments
Francis Maude

The government released its ICT strategy earlier today, but most will not be surprised by what it contains.

In a public accounts committee meeting on Whitehall IT, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude described the ICT strategy as a "lapidary" – or more polished – formulation of previous concepts.

Further reading

In his choice of adjective, Maud essentially conceded that the strategy contains nothing new.

The document, out today, outlines some familiar challenges facing the government:

projects tend to be too big and are signed with too few suppliers;

governments too rarely re-use and adapt systems, or use commoditised systems;

they are too rarely interoperable;

the infrastructure is insufficiently integrated;

procurement is too lengthy and expensive – this squeezes out the smaller suppliers;

and too little attention has been given to the implementation of big ICT projects, with stakeholders regularly leaving their posts before the projects are completed.

The report's proposals for addressing these challenges repeat many of the pledges made by the coalition government when it took office last May.

It will introduce central controls to ensure greater consistency and integration and take powers to remove excess capacity: all spending is currently signed off by the Cabinet Office and so this has at least partially already been established.

The report reiterates the "presumption" against projects having a lifetime value of more than £100m. Certain projects are currently more than 40 times more costly than this, with Aspire, the HMRC framework agreement with Capgemini, currently exceeding £4.3bn.

The report also commits the government to using more open source code.

More interestingly, the government has said it will create open standards starting with interoperability and security, and will set up an app store and expect project leaders to stay in post until an appropriate break in the life of a project.

An in-depth analysis of the report will be available on Computing's site this afternoon.


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