Government ICT strategy needs more attention, says National Audit Office

By Sooraj Shah
22 Dec 2011 View Comments
National Audit Office

Despite praising the government's progress following the release of its ICT strategy in March, a National Audit Office (NAO) report has identified several areas in which the government needs to improve.

The NAO report, Implementing the government ICT strategy: six-month review, said the following measures need to be in place to ensure the government's plan doesn't fall behind schedule:

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  • The Cabinet Office needs to develop a system to measure the strategy's impact.
  • The government needs to create a resource plan as "short-term capacity and capability gaps may start to hinder progress".
  • The board should outline its implementation schedule for central government bodies, in addition to how the strategy solutions will be adopted.

"This [outlining that there are concerns] does not imply a lack of attention on the part of those involved, but reflects the ambition the government has for the pace of change," said the report.

"These concerns can be dealt with but need to be addressed in the short term if they are not to become significant barriers to progress," it added.

The NAO report also stated that if the ICT strategy is to deliver a lasting legacy for the public and business, it should address the following areas:

  • The board should do more to help government organisations use new ICT products and services created through the strategy, such as those in cloud computing.
  • The Cabinet Office needs to interact with the senior civil servants who aren't ICT professionals to ensure that government reform programmes have ICT at their core.
  • The Cabinet Office and departments and agencies need to immediately address the IT skills gap, especially in procurement, supplier relationship management, and new methods such as agile delivery and digital services.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, also reiterated the point that ICT is central to the government's plan to deliver cost savings.

"ICT is going to play an increasingly important role in changing the way government works and how services are provided. The government's ICT strategy is in its early days and initial signs are good.

"However, new ways of working are as dependent on developing the skills of people in the public sector as they are on changes to technology and processes. The big challenge is to ensure the strategy delivers value in each of these areas," she said in a statement.





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