Government insider admits Whitehall's IT needs improvement

By Stuart Sumner
10 Aug 2012 View Comments

Former government deputy CIO Bill McCluggage has criticised the government for a lack of metrics in IT, and a failure to profit from 'shadow IT' and the cloud.

Further reading

Metrics – measuring success and failure

Speaking exclusive to Computing recently, McCluggage, now advisory technology consultant at information infrastructure firm EMC, began by explaining that the government needs metrics in place to drive performance.

"Athletes don't run down the track without being timed. There should be metrics in government around the price of compute power, the speed at which you can spin up VMs [Virtual Machines], the overall IT cost per employee.

"It shouldn't be hard to work out the cost of device per employee, but disentangling it from a system integrator who has a whole series of other costs in there is the difficult bit."

He added that disentangling these costs is not actually in the interests of the system integrator, making the process even less likely to happen.

McCluggage added the caveat that the goal of the process isn't to set cost targets for staff IT equipment, as there are legitimate reasons why one employee might need more expensive kit than another.

"The cost of delivering IT to a customs officer [who is often out in the field] is likely to be different from a person sitting in an office in DWP. But it might be similar to a road traffic inspector, so if you classify that way you can start to see likenesses."

Shadow IT – Users left to their own devices

He explained that it would be useful for the government to understand how much of its IT spend is driven through the Government Procurement Service (GPS), the official channel and 'shadow IT', where staff go out and buy their own products and services and charge the costs to expenses.

Often seen as an irritation to be stamped out, McCluggage pointed out as his second recommendation that government should view the concept of shadow IT as a potential to improve services.

"Shadow IT is where users use their credit cards to book processing time at Amazon Web Services [AWS], or go and download Dropbox. Maybe we should be looking at shadow IT in a different way and see that it does drive progress. Business leaders and managers are effectively saying IT isn't responsible enough and they can get its services more quickly and cheaply themselves."

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