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Institute for Government response to new Government ICT Strategy
The Cabinet Office has today published its strategy for ICT in government, setting out its top level commitment to more effective use of ICT.
Earlier this month, the Institute for Government published System Error: Fixing the Flaws in Government IT. In the report we concluded that government was struggling to get the basics of IT right; the result was billions in wasted money and time.
IT Strategy is welcome but decision not to have independent CIO is still a concern
Our report recommended a new dual approach to government IT that emphasises adaptability and flexibility in procurement and delivery while retaining the benefits of scale and collaboration across government.
We described these twin tracks as 'agile'and 'platform'. Both these elements feature prominently in the Government’s ICT strategy, which promises that Government will "apply agile methods to procurement and delivery to reduce the risk of project failure" and introduce a "common ICT platform".
Responding to the Government's strategy today, Sir Ian Magee, senior fellow at the Institute for Government and co-author of System Error, said the government had made welcome commitments but said in time it should reconsider not having an independent CIO. He said:
"We are pleased that the government has adopted so many of our recommendations, which can improve the way government manages IT. Too many IT projects are locked in too early, which often wasted time and money when requirements and political priorities changed.
"The new strategy supports our view for a far more flexible approach to IT procurement and delivery, while also ensuring the benefits of commoditisation and standardisation are captured across government."
"The new ICT strategy also emphasises the importance of adopting a stronger, central platform approach, which we support. However, to make this work we believe that it is vital that the Government CIO operates independently of departmental interests and is seen to do so. This strategy will eventually demand a truly independent Government CIO, which we currently do not have"
Challenge for the civil service
Ian Magee also emphasised the challenges of turning the strategy into reality.
"Our research showed that implementing many of these changes will be extremely challenging. For example, the transition from a traditional method of project management to an agile approach requires a change of organisational culture and the acquisition of new skills as well as totally rethinking many of the traditional, linear procurement processes. This will take time, and require a concerted effort from the government CIO and CIO Council."