Government urged to speed up ICT provision reform

By Sooraj Shah
27 Jan 2012 View Comments
The Houses of Parliament

The government has been criticised by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) for not sufficiently addressing problems in public sector ICT provision.

The Civil Service watchdog said in its latest report that the government has failed to address more than a third of its earlier recommedations, particularly those focused on the three areas of supplier benchmarking, legacy systems and skills gaps.

Further reading

In the report, the PASC said the government has not acted on its recommendation that it should gain independent external advice on benchmarking suppliers to determine whether there is any truth in the claims of anti-competitive and collusive behaviour by some large suppliers.

The report said the government's use of transparent data for benchmarking is not sufficient and it has not engaged with independent bodies to help set benchmarks. 

The PASC said there is still a "lack of up-to-date and accurate information making it impossible for the government to identify potential overcharging, leading to the waste of an obscene amount of public money".

Another area of criticism is around legacy systems.

"We are not convinced that the government's approach to legacy systems properly addresses the underlying issues. At the very least, the government should produce a long-term risk-register identifying where and when investment will be needed to migrate and replace existing legacy systems. We expect to return to this issue in a later inquiry," the PASC said.

The PASC did welcome the government's acknowledgement of the need for commercial and technical IT skills.

Training for the senior civil service in technology and a "growth of a network of ‘champions' in agile development" helps address  some of the problems of skills gaps, it said.

But PASC said that it remains unclear whether the government's actions on skills gaps "will be adequate to cope with the scale of behavioural and process change required across the whole of government".

This is the second report by the PASC on public sector ICT provision.

The first report, Government and IT = "A recipe for rip-offs": time for a new approach, was released in July last year.

The purpose of the second report was to assess how well the government has responded to criticism of its ICT strategy in the initial report. 

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