Shining a light on the Government’s ICT strategy

By David Bicknell

My Campaign4Change colleague Tony Collins has written an illuminating piece today on his ComputerworldUK blog.

He says the Cabinet Office has prepared an interim Government ICT strategy which is due to go before the CIO Council for ratification at its meeting today. 

It’s an interim strategy designed to offer the incoming Government CIO a chance to make changes before the final document is published. Joe Harley, currently CIO at the Department for Work and Pensions, is expected to be the new Government CIO, after John Suffolk leaves.

Tony suggests in his article that the new strategy is likely to give departmental CIOs more power, including an ability to stop, or call a halt to, unnecessary projects. 

The piece adds that the Coalition’s strategy for savings, as enacted by the Office of the Government CIO and the Efficiency and Reform Group, has apparently worked well so far, under the minister Francis Maude and his key officials Ian Watmore,  Katherine Davidson (Ex-McKinsey and head of implementation at the Conservative Party and now Director, Efficiency, Reform Strategy), Chris Chant, formerly CIO at DEFRA, and Bill McCluggage, Deputy Government CIO and Director of ICT Strategy & Policy.

That success so far has been largely because the Coalition has insisted that all projects costing over £1m have to be submitted to the Efficiency and Reform Group for approval.   

According to officials, it seems that about a third of IT-dependent projects have stopped, some of them large, merely because managers decided not to submit them to permanent secretaries for approval, in case their usefulness or importance were challenged by the ERG. 

Tony’s piece says many of these savings are regarded as easily made. However, it is likely to be harder to achieve savings that some officials estimate to be, potentially, £8bn on the annual public sector IT spend of about £17bn. G-Cloud and data centre consolidation are likely to be key elements of the new ICT strategy.

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