Former Whitehall deputy CIO Bill McCluggage (pictured) believes the government is unable to deliver on its IT aspirations.
In an exclusive interview with Computing, he said that a lack of metrics in government IT is scuppering its strive for greater efficiency.
"There's a disconnect between government aspirations and their ability to deliver, because there's no metrics involved," said McCluggage. "There's a lack of numbers across the board. You can't manage what you can't measure."
He added that even simple statistics that most private-sector CIOs would consider to be bread and butter information are a mystery to the government.
"What's the virtualisation percentage in government datacentres? They don't tell anyone what that is, and I don't believe they know. They've been relying heavily on system integrators, and have transferred these skills out."
McCluggage, who is now advisory technology consultant at information infrastructure firm EMC, explained that the CloudStore – the government online catalogue of services from preferred suppliers – is a good start, but that the government needs to work on how to integrate those services together.
"A priority is tackling the IT cost base. To do that you need to know the numbers. As an example, two years ago a virtual machine (VM) would cost £1,400 from a systems integrator. That went down to £800 a year ago, and now the CloudStore has four suppliers offering a VM at a tenth of the time to make it happen at a tenth of the price, around £140.
"Some in the private sector might say that's still too expensive but it's at least a quantum step down.
"But then you need to work out how you're going to integrate that yourself. If you buy services from the CloudStore, which are piecemeal, you have to understand how to integrate it as a piecemeal activity."