Tag Archives: innovation within government

Jobs on offer – Government in need of “digital” talent

By Tony Collins

Some parts of government may be shrinking but there’s jobs on offer in the Government Digital Service.

Mike Bracken, the Cabinet Office’s Executive Director for Digital, says the Government is “badly in need of the talent to engineer ourselves out of our torpor”.

“We are hiring”, he says. His team have jobs in development, product management, interaction design, web ops, technology architecture and digital engagement.  Salaries are between £59k and £90k.

Says Bracken: “Over the last 15 years or more, across Government we have engineered digital products and services using risk aversion and long-term programme management as our guiding principles.

“Now that it is clear that rapid, user-led development using open source technologies, agile approaches to delivery and cloud-based infrastructure is the order of the day, we find ourselves badly in need of the talent to engineer ourselves out of our torpor.

“In short, with long-term contracts giving programme managers and departments only one lever to pull in order to change or create digital services, it’s never been more important that there is a choice within Government.

“While there have been a few raised eyebrows at hiring in these straitened times, let me be clear that we need digital talent all across Government. In policy, legal, procurement and service delivery, deep digital experience in Government is scarce.

“So I would recommend that we see this drive not just a one-off recruitment campaign for GDS, but the start of the digital transformation of all Government services. As well as hiring, I spend large amounts of my time looking to help transform existing people and processes.

Bracken was appointed the Government’s new Executive Director for Digital on 5 July 2011.

Government Digital Service

Universal Credit internal report – now published

By Tony Collins

Below is the Universal Credit Starting Gate review report that the Department for Work and Pensions refused to publish under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Treasury defines the Starting Gate review as a report on the “deliverability of major new policy and/or business change initiatives prior to public commitment to a project”.

The Starting Gate report on Universal Credit was obtained from the House of Commons’ library by Conservative MP Richard Bacon. It appears that the Cabinet Office’s Chief Operating Officer Ian Watmore asked the DWP to release the report to the Public Accounts Committee after Bacon’s request.

This is the first time all the sections of the report have been published on a website. The report is dated March 2011. No later assessment of the IT aspects of Universal Credit is available. UC is the government’s biggest IT-based project based on agile principles.

Starting Gate review: Universal Credit
Version number: Final
Date of issue: 8 March 2011
Name of Sponsor
(Senior Responsible Owner)
Terry Moran, Director-General Universal Credit,DWP
 Department: Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
Review dates: 28 February 2011–4 March 2011

Introduction

1 The White Paper “Universal Credit: welfare that works”, published on 11 November 2010, sets out the Coalition Government’s plans to introduce legislation to reform the welfare system by creating a new Universal Credit (UC). The main policy intent is a radical simplification of the system to make work pay and to combat worklessness and poverty.

2  On16 February 2011the Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill introduces a wide range of reforms to make the benefits and tax credits system fairer and simpler by:

  • creating the right incentives to get more people into work by ensuring work always pays;
  • protecting the most vulnerable in society;
  • delivering fairness to those claiming benefit and to the tax payer.

The aim is to introduce UC from October 2013.

3  The delivery of Universal Credit has a core dependency on HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) programme which will collect Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) and other earnings information from employers dynamically as they run their payroll system.  To realise UC objectives, theRTItimetable has been designed to enable a controlled “go-live” from April 2012 and start a phased migration of employers.

Starting Gate review

4  This is a Starting Gate review report.  Starting Gate is an assurance tool of the Major Projects Authority in the Cabinet Office designed for Government Departments, their Agencies and NDPBs. Starting Gate reviews are intended to help Departments working on major high risk policy initiatives before these reach the stage of formal delivery projects or programmes. The aim is to provide an independent, constructive snapshot assessment of key issues and risks, and proposals or recommendations to enhance the prospects of successful implementation.

 Acknowledgements

5  The Review Team (RT) would like to thank the SRO and Programme team for the excellent logistical support and documentation which has helped us in our evaluation.

 Scope of review

6  The scope of this review is to assess the overall deliverablity of the Universal Credit programme with a specific focus on:

  • project structure and governance;
  • the dependency on HMRC’sRTIprogramme, and contingencies if that is delayed;
  • changing customer behaviour (ie increased use of on-line services):
  • testing the risks and benefits of applying the Agile methodology (eg the promise of completed products of lasting value at each stage; the fit with normal business cycle; and the rules on accountability).

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation Section Page
The programme, in conjunction with the wider business, develops a roadmap depicting how existing benefits will be managed in the future, specifically but not exclusively, Housing Benefit for Pensioners, Disability Living Allowance. Scope of programme 5
The programme reviews their project governance structures to ensure the optimal board structure is in place, providing a hierarchy of decision making bodies, from the Agile design workshops to the Programme Board.  Ensure each board has clear terms of reference, are aware of their decision making powers and the correct escalation route. Structure and governance 6
The programme should formally assess themselves against the NAO list of common causes of project failure to identify potential ‘danger zones’ that they can plan to mitigate.  Also use the expertise gained by HMRC andASDas a valuable insight to successful delivery and avoiding past mistakes. Communications strategy 6
The programme to establish a comprehensive communications strategy and supporting plan.  Although customers and staff were highlighted above the strategy should include all interested parties, and specifically those with a dependency on or to the programme. Communications strategy 6
The programme to work closely with other government departments to identify where there may be opportunities to link with their activity in order to enhance UC’s chances of success. Dependencies 7
The programme to set up a working group to look at the set of complex cases to see if there are alternative handling options for these cases but with the ultimate payment coming through Universal Credit. Changing customer behaviour 8
DWP, with guidance and assistance from the MPA, produces an Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan (IAAP) by the end of March 2011. Agile 9

DELIVERABILITY

7  The SRO requested the RT’s overall views.

8  The review team finds that the Programme has got off to an impressively strong start given the demanding timetable and complexity of the design and interdependency with other departments.  This involves liaison with HMRC in particular, but also with CLG and local government in respect of the replacement of Housing Benefit as part of the Universal Credit.  We found that the foundations for a delivery Programme are in place – clear policy objectives, a coherent strategy, Ministerial and top management support, financial and human resources – with no obvious gaps.  The strong working relationship with HMRC and the inclusive approach with other key stakeholders within and outsideDWPhave quickly established a high level of common understanding.  All this gives a high degree of confidence that, notwithstanding the inherent challenges, the programme can deliver Universal Credit.

9  There is a greater degree of uncertainty around the achievability of the intended economic outcomes because of factors which are not within DWP’s control e.g. the general state of the economy and availability of jobs.  There are other risks which derive from trying new approaches: the Agile methodology offers much promise but it is unproven on this scale and scope.  The actual response of different customer groups to UC may pose a risk to its transformational impact if, for example, factors other than net pay turned out to be a greater barrier to take up of work than expected.  The development of a range of approaches to contingency planning (which could be beyond changes to UC) could cover off unintended customer behaviour, whether “no change”, or “change for the worse”.

ASSESSMENT

Scope of programme

10  The Review Team (RT) recognises the challenges that delivering into an organisation already undergoing substantial change through restructuring presents.  In order to have the best chance of determining the most appropriate delivery model and developing credible and effective transition plans to deliver a ‘world class’ service, early decisions on the shape of the organisation would be immensely helpful.

11  There is a very real danger that due to a number of factors, including restructuring, headcount reductions, and uncertainty about the delivery model, the department may lose some of the expertise that it will need in order to deliver Universal Credit successfully.  There is also the challenge of maintaining staff morale during a period of uncertainty, to ensure the quality of service for the existing service is not impacted.  The review team felt that this was sufficiently visible to the Programme and that the risk was being managed at this stage.  Once the delivery model is known and the Programme moves nearer to transition, this risk will need more focus.

12  During the review, a number of interviewees raised the topic of the scope of both the Universal Credit and the Universal Credit IT platform and associated systems.  What was not obvious was whether there was a consensus on whether the Universal Credit platform was being designed as a strategic platform with potential for re-use across a number of other DWP payments, or whether it was solely a platform to pay Universal Credit.

13  Given the Coalition Government’s desire to see re-use built into IT systems from the outset, it would be prudent to consider opportunities for this now.  The review team felt that a roadmap, identifying what was definitely within the Universal Credit boundary, what could be paid by the Universal Credit platform at a future date, and what was definitely out of scope, would be beneficial.  The roadmap should also indicate how the ‘out of scope’ payments are to be handled and assign ownership.  This would be a useful departmental tool to provide clarity to stakeholders both within the Department and those that are impacted outside of DWP.

Recommendation:

The Programme, in conjunction with the wider business, develops a roadmap depicting how existing benefits will be managed in the future, specifically but not exclusively, Housing Benefit for Pensioners, Disability Living Allowance.

Project Structure and Governance

14  The importance of the programme is evidenced by the amount of commitment and support it received during the review.  The appointment of dedicated, experienced and well respected personnel into the key programme roles is seen as very positive and welcome.

15  In terms of structure the proposal to keep the programme’s core team to a minimum whilst commissioning involvement and support from key areas as necessary was generally well supported, However, the impact of any organisational redesign to meet the SR challenges was raised as a key risk to delivery.  As mentioned above, this is an issue the programme is aware of within their risk log.

16  It is recognised in order for the programme to get to their current position is has been necessary to establish a Programme Board which allows all interested parties a voice.  The review team found the time was now right to review the membership and frequency of the Programme Board and supporting structures to allow empowered decisions to be taken at the right level.

17  In reviewing the programme structure it is important that stakeholders retain a voice although not a decision making responsibility.  There was evidence that the programme board had recognised this and consideration was being given to a stakeholder forum.

Recommendation:

The programme reviews their project governance structures to ensure the optimal board structure is in place, providing a hierarchy of decision making bodies, from the Agile design workshops to the Programme Board.  Ensure each board has clear terms of reference, are aware of their decision making powers and the correct escalation route.

 Communications Strategy

18  Communications are key to the successful delivery of the programme on many levels, the review highlighted concerns in three specific areas:

a)      Lessons Learned – The scale and complexity of the programme is recognised as a key risk, however there are many sources of information which could help minimise this risk.  These include the recent NAO review “Assurance of High Risk Projects” which produced a list of the top reasons for project failure; the lessons learned by HMRC with the introduction of Tax Credits and more recently the PAYE modernisation programme; and the very recentASDexperience of using Agile as a development tool.

Recommendation:

The programme should formally assess themselves against the NAO list of common causes of project failure to identify potential ‘danger zones’ that they can plan to mitigate.  Also use the expertise gained by HMRC and ASD as a valuable insight to successful delivery and avoiding past mistakes. 

b)      Customers and Customer Groups – The valuable work already undertaken by the Customer Insights team was greatly applauded and there was a recognition that this should definitely continue and grow.  Concerns were raised about the need to ensure communications with customers and those groups representing customer interests were started early, dispelling myths and unfounded concerns whilst providing the foundations for the cultural and behavioural changes that will be needed.

c)      Internal Staff – The uncertainly of the operational delivery model and the known efficiency challenge highlighted concerns about the need to engage with staff, providing up to date, clear information about what decisions had been taken, what were planned and the timescales.

Recommendation:

The programme to establish a comprehensive communications strategy and supporting plan.  Although customers and staff were highlighted above the strategy should include all interested parties, and specifically those with a dependency on or to the programme.

Dependencies

19  Successful delivery also involves the active management of key relationships and dependencies.  It is recognised by all parties that there is a need for the programme to work with colleagues in DWP, HMRC and Local Authorities. The foundations for these relations are established and embedded in the membership of the key stakeholder and governance boards.

20  Whilst the review highlighted a number of inter-dependencies between Universal Credit and the existing DWP change portfolio, specifically Automated Service Delivery, Transforming Labour Market Services, IB Reassessment and the Work Programme, it is recognised that work has already been commissioned to provide an impact analysis assessment for the Investment Committee.

21 The review did however highlight areas where the programme could potentially utilise (or extend existing engagement with) the expertise and activities of other Government departments:

  • Cabinet Office: continue the engagement on cyber security to ensure security features are built in from the start. The RT noted the involvement of the appropriate agencies.
  • HMT: work to understand the Labour Market forecasts/trends which will provide information on the wider environment.
  • BIS: work to provide information on skills sought by employers.

Recommendation:

The programme to work closely with other government departments to identify where there may be opportunities to link with their activity in order to enhance UC’s chances of success.

HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) programme

22  The RT finds that bothDWPand HMRC are clear that timely delivery of RTI is a hard dependency for UC.   The joint framework established between the two departments at strategic, policy and operational levels has worked well to date to achieve rapid progress on areas of shared concern. There is a Universal Credit high level programme delivery plan including RTI;  a common change control mechanism is under discussion; the Welfare Reform Bill team has contact details for key HMRC officials and should be encouraged to engage them wherever needed during the passage of the Bill.  This is a strong foundation for the further detailed work that is needed such as a clear and agreed critical path showing key decision points.

23  The RT notes a strong commitment by Ministers and top management engagement in and support for this framework – a known critical success factor for major programmes in both the public and private sector.  Such support will be ever more important as the challenges of delivery increase in a timetable which, all acknowledge, is tight and poses a significant risk.  A restructured Programme Board (see section on governance), overseen by the Ministerial and top management Group, will be essential to maintaining collaborative management.

24  Detailed work is underway to develop a model for scaling up the non PAYE-RTI solution – a self-reporting system for the self-employed – as a contingency for delay of the required RTI service. (This will need to include the impact of the delivery model for UC, on which a decision is expected before Easter.)  The customer journey work will enable the identification of categories of customer claims which could, in principle, offer early “success stories” from a policy perspective and be processed under a non RTI-dependent system.   These options are work in progress and will need to be costed.

25  Contingency has been provided for in respect of other anticipated risks.  For example, the RTI testing period, envisaged to start in April 2012, has some “stretch” to allow for changes to the RTIBuild specification which could arise from the completion of the RTIDesign phase which runs beyond the letting of the Build contracts in May, or in response to late amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill.

Changing customer behaviour

26  The review team felt that the work that has been undertaken through the Customer Insights Team and the User Centre Design activity was a positive indicator that the customer feedback was being taken seriously from the outset, and was helping to shape both the policy and the system with which to deliver the policy.  It was seen by the review team as essential that this engagement with the customer base continues throughout the process.  The department however, should not underestimate the challenge to its staff in taking on a new customer base (i.e. working customers) and every effort should be made to transfer the learning and experience of those already dealing with these customers into the new delivery model.

27   Although the desire is to encourage customers to change their behaviour and to make the transition into work easier, this cannot be done through the implementation of Universal Credit in isolation.  A sustained programme of education and support through wider welfare reform activities will be needed to achieve this and the Programme should maintain links with those other areas of activity throughout.  One risk with any programme of work designed to change behaviour is that in an attempt to encourage people to make the move one way, there is an unintended consequence and behaviour is driven in the wrong direction.  The Programme should use the Customer Insights Team and the user centre design activity to provide an early warning of the likelihood of this happening.

28  One of the key principles of the new Universal Credit is simplicity and the importance of this was reiterated to the review team on a number of occasions.  One of the biggest challenges for the Programme is to maintain that simplicity but to still make provision within the system to deal with the most difficult and complex cases.  It is not feasible to have a system which does not cater for the customer base in its entirety but the Programme may wish to consider whether there are alternative ways of handling the minority group of customers with the most extreme complex cases in order not to compromise the integrity of the system and the over-arching simplicity of Universal Credits.

Recommendation:

The programme to set up a working group to look at the set of complex cases to see if there are alternative handling options for these cases but with the ultimate payment coming through Universal Credit.

29  Another challenge for the programme is the desire to move the majority of customers to on-line services.  This will present some difficulties and it may be beneficial to engage other organisations that have achieved this to understand the methodologies or tools they have used.

Agile

30  The challenging timetable for delivery of UC meant that DWP elected to use an Agile approach to the delivery. There is no evidence of such a methodology being used on a public sector programme of such scale and during the course of the review it was evident that there had been some initial scepticism to the use of such a methodology with a programme of this scale. However, during the review there was overwhelming evidence of buy-in to the methodology at all levels up to and including the highest levels. DWP have set about thoroughly educating all involved on what can be expected from them and there was clear evidence within the interviews that this is being taken up enthusiastically.

31  There was a view that policy decisions being made later in the programme would pose a problem for delivery. This was countered by the view that the methodology should allow decisions to be made when they need to be made, which is in contrast to fixing requirements early in more traditional (‘waterfall’) methodologies. On balance, the review team found that the use of the chosen methodology here was judged by interviewees to provide greater assurance of delivery in such an environment. The review team agrees with this finding.

32  In terms of the use of Agile within Government,DWPalso have the best current experience via their Automated Service Delivery (ASD) Programme, which used a slightly less ‘lean’ version of the methodology based on an Accenture interpretation. However, there are still valuable lessons that can be transferred from this programme and there exists experience that is being directly deployed on UC. The review team felt that whilst effectively piloting this methodology on a programme such as UC did pose a risk, this was acceptable in view of the risk of delivery out of line with expectations, for example in terms of timing or quality of service to the public.

33  Accenture remain involved in UC, although DWP have brought in consultants (Emergn) to provide an independent methodology not based on any ‘out of the box’ methodologies, but rather one that Emergn have tailored. New contracts supporting this development are due to be awarded in June 2011 and DWP state that their use of this independent methodology will serve to remove any supplier advantage.

34  There was evidence that DWP have understood the need for decision-making delegated to the level at which the expertise exists, with the appropriate empowerment supported within the planned governance re-design. There was also an acknowledgement that the right domain/business knowledge needs to be made available at the workshops that will drive the detailed design processes. It was also accepted that there is a continuing need for this knowledge to be made available and also that it will need to keep pace with the changing policy.

35  One key risk identified by DWP is how an Agile methodology will interact successfully with the various approvals processes that will come into play across the programme – most especially the ICT Spend Approval process (formally known as the ICT Moratorium Exception process). Engagement has begun already with the Major Projects Authority (MPA) on designing the Integrated Assurance and Approval Plan (IAAP) that will ensure the correct internal and external assurance is brought to bear for the identified approval points. The production of this plan is seen by the review team as a key mitigating factor for the risk identified and it is recommended that this is produced, with MPA guidance, by the end of March 2011 at the latest. This may need fine-tuning as approval points are finally agreed.

Recommendation:

DWP, with guidance and assistance from the MPA, produces an Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan (IAAP) by the end of March 2011.

36  As noted earlier, there are contracts that are relevant to this development that are being re-competed at this time, with a wish to award in June 2011. There was some evidence that the design of contracts to deliver in an Agile environment will require a different design in order to draw out supplier behaviour in line with an accelerated delivery environment.

37  There is a always the risk that any development methodology will fail to deliver and whilst this methodology itself provides early warning of failure, there is recognition that in such a circumstance the prioritisation of customer journeys with high-value returns would be needed.

38  There was much evidence of the reliance of UC on successful delivery of the HMRC PAYE Real-Time Information (RTI) programme. There was also recognition that whilst ‘just-in-time’ decisions as a consequence of policy development could be made within UC, the RTI requirement would need to be more rigidly fixed as the traditional ‘waterfall’ development methodology in use cannot so easily absorb such changes without consequence.

39  There was some concern that fraud would remain a major issue for UC and appropriate Information Assurance should be built into the requirement from the outset – rather than being a ‘bolt-on’. Also, as UC and its interface with PAYERTI will become part of the UK Critical National Infrastructure, appropriate discussions should be maintained. There was evidence that DWP have gripped these requirements.

40  Overall, the use of an Agile methodology remains unproven at this scale and within UK Government; however, the challenging timescale does present DWP with few choices for delivery of such a radical programme. That said, there has been evidence of strong support at all levels and DWP do have some expertise within their own organisation that they can call upon from the outset. The review team not only felt that an Agile development is an appropriate choice given the constraints, they also believe that DWP are well placed with their level of support, knowledge and enthusiasm to act as a pilot for its use at such a scale.

 

Compound failure

41 DWP has made a strong start in identifying risks to delivery.   This could be developed further by thinking through the likelihood and impact of a number of risks being realised simultaneously (eg lack of synchronisation between reduced income and UC top-up, plus wrong employer data plus labour market downturn).and what the responses might be.  The programme could extend its preparedness by drawing on a wider range of experience the elements of recovery and their prioritisation; and test their robustness in advance, including an early warning system for Ministers.

Next independent external assurance

To be identified in the Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan (IAAP) to be presented to the Programme Board w/b 21 March.

The Programme is scheduled for formal internal DWP “Gate zero” acceptance at an Investment Committee (IC) meeting on 21 April.

**

Thank you to Richard Bacon for obtaining a copy of the Starting Gate review. Bacon had requested a copy from Joe Harley, Government CIO and CIO at the DWP. Ian Watmore, Chief Operating Officer at the Efficiency and Reform Group, Cabinet Office agreed to supply Bacon with a copy as per the following exchange at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on 16 May 2011:

Bacon: “You sounded quite confident about universal credit. Will you send us the initial gateway review for universal credit?”

Harley: “The starting gate review?”

Watmore:  “The starting gate review. I don’t have a problem with that.”

After the hearing when the DWP refused our FOI request for a copy of the UC Starting Gate review report, it said that publication was not in the public interest. We can see nothing in the report that justifies the DWP’s claim. That said accountability and transparency are not the DWP’s defining characteristics.

Links:

Open Government? – Up to a point Lord Copper.

DWP FOI team hides already released report.

Agile and Universal Credit

Agile for Universal Credit – a good choice says report

By Tony Collins

Universal Credit is one of  the government’s biggest IT-based projects and the biggest test for agile in the public sector. It is due to start rolling out in April 2013.

The choice of agile for the scheme is supported by a “Starting Gate” review which was carried out for the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority, and for Terry Moran, the Director-General, Universal Credit at the Department for Work and Pensions. The review was carried out between 28 February 2011 and 4 March 2011.

This is what the Starting Gate report says on agile aspects of the project.

Agile

The challenging timetable for delivery of UC meant that DWP elected to use an Agile approach to the delivery. There is no evidence of such a methodology being used on a public sector programme of such scale and during the course of the review it was evident that there had been some initial scepticism to the use of such a methodology with a programme of this scale.

However, during the review there was overwhelming evidence of buy-in to the methodology at all levels up to and including the highest levels. DWP have set about thoroughly educating all involved on what can be expected from them and there was clear evidence within the interviews that this is being taken up enthusiastically.

There was a view that policy decisions being made later in the programme would pose a problem for delivery. This was countered by the view that the methodology should allow decisions to be made when they need to be made, which is in contrast to fixing requirements early in more traditional (‘waterfall’) methodologies.

On balance, the review team found that the use of the chosen methodology here was judged by interviewees to provide greater assurance of delivery in such an environment. The review team agrees with this finding.

In terms of the use of Agile within Government, DWP also have the best current experience via their Automated Service Delivery (ASD) Programme, which used a slightly less ‘lean’ version of the methodology based on an Accenture interpretation.

However, there are still valuable lessons that can be transferred from this programme and there exists experience that is being directly deployed on UC. The review team felt that whilst effectively piloting this methodology on a programme such as UC did pose a risk, this was acceptable in view of the risk of delivery out of line with expectations, for example in terms of timing or quality of service to the public.

Accenture remain involved in UC, although DWP have brought in consultants (Emergn) to provide an independent methodology not based on any ‘out of the box’ methodologies, but rather one that Emergn have tailored.

New contracts supporting this development are due to be awarded in June 2011 and DWP state that their use of this independent methodology will serve to remove any supplier advantage.

There was evidence that DWP have understood the need for decision-making delegated to the level at which the expertise exists, with the appropriate empowerment supported within the planned governance re-design.

There was also an acknowledgement that the right domain/business knowledge needs to be made available at the workshops that will drive the detailed design processes. It was also accepted that there is a continuing need for this knowledge to be made available and also that it will need to keep pace with the changing policy.

One key risk identified by DWP is how an Agile methodology will interact successfully with the various approvals processes that will come into play across the programme – most especially the ICT Spend Approval process (formally known as the ICT Moratorium Exception process).

Engagement has begun already with the Major Projects Authority (MPA) on designing the Integrated Assurance and Approval Plan (IAAP) that will ensure the correct internal and external assurance is brought to bear for the identified approval points. The production of this plan is seen by the review team as a key mitigating factor for the risk identified and it is recommended that this is produced, with MPA guidance, by the end of March 2011 at the latest. This may need fine-tuning as approval points are finally agreed.

Recommendation:

DWP, with guidance and assistance from the MPA, produces an Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan (IAAP) by the end of March 2011.

As noted earlier, there are contracts that are relevant to this development that are being re-competed at this time, with a wish to award in June 2011. There was some evidence that the design of contracts to deliver in an Agile environment will require a different design in order to draw out supplier behaviour in line with an accelerated delivery environment.

There is a always the risk that any development methodology will fail to deliver and whilst this methodology itself provides early warning of failure, there is recognition that in such a circumstance the prioritisation of customer journeys with high-value returns would be needed.

There was much evidence of the reliance of UC on successful delivery of the HMRC PAYE Real-Time Information (RTI) programme. There was also recognition that whilst ‘just-in-time’ decisions as a consequence of policy development could be made within UC, the RTI requirement would need to be more rigidly fixed as the traditional ‘waterfall’ development methodology in use cannot so easily absorb such changes without consequence.

There was some concern that fraud would remain a major issue for UC and appropriate Information Assurance should be built into the requirement from the outset – rather than being a ‘bolt-on’. Also, as UC and its interface with PAYERTI [PAYE RTI] will become part of the UK Critical National Infrastructure, appropriate discussions should be maintained. There was evidence that DWP have gripped these requirements.

Overall, the use of an Agile methodology remains unproven at this scale and within UK Government; however, the challenging timescale does present DWP with few choices for delivery of such a radical programme.

That said, there has been evidence of strong support at all levels and DWP do have some expertise within their own organisation that they can call upon from the outset. The review team not only felt that an Agile development is an appropriate choice given the constraints, they also believe that DWP are well placed with their level of support, knowledge and enthusiasm to act as a pilot for its use at such a scale.

Compound failure

DWP has made a strong start in identifying risks to delivery.   This could be developed further by thinking through the likelihood and impact of a number of risks being realised simultaneously (eg lack of synchronisation between reduced income and UC top-up, plus wrong employer data plus labour market downturn).and what the responses might be.

The programme could extend its preparedness by drawing on a wider range of experience the elements of recovery and their prioritisation; and test their robustness in advance, including an early warning system for Ministers.

Agile and Universal Credit – Secret report.

Agile can fix failed GovIT says lawyer.

Agile and Universal Credit – secret report

By Tony Collins

Below are excerpts  from the supposedly confidential “Starting Gate” report by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority on Universal Credit.

The main finding is that, despite inherent challenges, “the programme can deliver Universal Credit”.

Media reports on Universal Credit have depicted the scheme as an impending disaster that may blight the coalition in the run-up to the next general election, but the Authority’s report says the programme has got off to an impressively strong start.

This will encourage advocates of agile in government as Universal Credit is the Government’s biggest agile development.

We requested the Starting Gate report on Universal Credit under the Freedom of Information Act but the Department for Work and Pensions refused to release it; and turned down our appeal.

We obtained the report outside the FOI Act, via the House of Commons Library. It appears that one part of the DWP was trying to keep the report secret while another part had released it to two Parliamentary committees [the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Administration Select Committee].

It may be that the DWP, when it comes to FOI, doesn’t know clearly what it’s doing – or is all but indifferent to the FOI Act and chooses secrecy to keep things simple. The DWP’s FOI reply to us was, at best, in  perfunctory compliance with the FOI Act. It made no attempt to set out the arguments for its decision not to disclose the report, other than to say disclosure was not in the public interest.

The Starting Gate  report was dated March 2011 and was largely positive about the start of the Universal Credit . These were some of the findings.

Deliverability

“The review team finds that the Programme has got off to an impressively strong start given the demanding timetable and complexity of the design and interdependency with other departments.

“This involves liaison with HMRC in particular, but also with CLG and local government in respect of the replacement of Housing Benefit as part of the Universal Credit.

“We found that the foundations for a delivery Programme are in place – clear policy objectives, a coherent strategy, Ministerial and top management support, financial and human resources – with no obvious gaps.

“The strong working relationship with HMRC and the inclusive approach with other key stakeholders within and outside DWP have quickly established a high level of common understanding.  All this gives a high degree of confidence that, notwithstanding the inherent challenges, the programme can deliver Universal Credit.

“There is a greater degree of uncertainty around the achievability of the intended economic outcomes because of factors which are not within DWP’s control e.g. the general state of the economy and availability of jobs.

“There are other risks which derive from trying new approaches: the Agile methodology offers much promise but it is unproven on this scale and scope.  The actual response of different customer groups to UC may pose a risk to its transformational impact if, for example, factors other than net pay turned out to be a greater barrier to take up of work than expected.

“The development of a range of approaches to contingency planning (which could be beyond changes to UC) could cover off unintended customer behaviour, whether ‘no change’, or ‘change for the worse’.”

Campaign4Change will publish more excepts next week.

Links:

Agile can fix failed Gov’t IT says lawyer

DWP FOI team hides Universal Credit report

Universal Credit – guaranteed to fail?

DWP gives IBM and Capgemini 60 application maintenance and development apps

DWP partners with IBM to help deliver Universal Credit

Capita says govt can save billions but frontline cuts are “criminal”

By Tony Collins

Paul Pindar, Chief Executive of Capita, makes the valid point that billions of pounds can be cut from the costs of government back offices without the need for “criminal” cuts to frontline services such as police, libraries, youth centres or healthcare.

The Financial Times today quotes Pindar  as saying: “When you can see local authorities closing libraries, swimming pools, it’s criminal. It’s a political agenda. Billions of pounds could be saved and the public wouldn’t notice the difference.”

He said Capita, for example, could cut £2.5bn from the costs of police IT and human resources, without putting at risk uniformed jobs.

Comment:

Pindar sounds as if he’s making a pitch for more government work, which he probably is. But it’s hard to argue with what he says. Except that the savings can be made by SMEs rather than the big suppliers, like Capita, that already dominate government IT spending.    

It may cost more for the civil service to handle SME contracts rather manage a single large deal – but the savings may be greater through an imaginative use of IT and changes in working practices.

One reason it’s hard for civil servants to innovate?

By Tony Collins

James Gardner has seen for himself the institutional obstacles to innovation. . He was, in effect, chief innovator [CTO] at the Department for Work and Pensions. He now works for Spigit.

In a blog on the need for innovators to have “courageous patience” he quotes the British politician Tony Benn who used to be Minister of Technology in the Wilson government:

“It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”

He also quotes Warren Bennis who, he says, established leadership as a credible academic discipline:

“Innovation— any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.”

Patience comes easily in the civil service but courage? The courage to spend a little with inventive SMEs rather than a lot with large systems integrators? Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to get central departments to innovate.

Some ways to change government practices

By Tony Collins

Mark Foden, a consultant to the public sector, says that transformation is much more likely to come about through collaboration and small incremental changes than strong-arm tactics such as mandation and regulation.

He also suggests that rather than pay high-cost contractors, government should pay more for talented specialists – and possibly pay them much more than their managers.

Foden has worked within government for many years and has seen some of what works and doesn’t. He advocates the use of internal social networks within and across departments.

He sets out his views in a critique of a report of the Public Accounts Committee on Information Communications and Technology in government.

Foden’s views are to some extent in line with the so-called “nudge” non-regulatory approach to behaviour change. Nudge was used originally by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein who define it as:

“… any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not”.

These are some of the points Foden makes:

Systemic change. It isn’t enough to change policy, process and structure and hope that deeper, more systemic, changes will naturally follow.

Targets. There is a deep-grained, almost unquestioned, culture of using targets to control performance. “Often, targets drive target-meeting behaviours rather than performance-improving ones…Measuring, on the other hand, is crucial; but it must be used in the spirit of learning and developing rather than explicitly for controlling…”

Language. Be careful how you use expressions such as “buy-in” and “deliver”.  Buy-in suggests something that is decided by one group of people then ‘sold’ to another. This is just not a great model for helping civil servants feel involved and empowered. “If people are going to play an important part in achieving something then they must be, and feel, involved from the beginning. Just using terms like this creates the wrong dynamic. Rather than cautioning about not achieving buy-in the Public Accounts Committee should be encouraging more-open, more-inclusive behaviours.” Deliver, says Foden, is too transactional. “I just can’t get the ‘deliver a parcel’ sense out of my head: something neatly packaged then sent to a recipient at a specific time. Managing change is just not about this.”

SMEs. “To get benefit from working with SMEs Government will need to bend, in perhaps significant ways; and people will need to behave differently. This is new territory: time should be taken to experiment and find out what approaches flourish. The useful approaches should be developed – incrementally – in much the same way the strategy proposes IT be developed. And this may take years.

Lean. “Change cannot be made by feeding new policy into an old machine. “Government will need to reshape (and that’s not ‘reorganise’) itself dramatically – perhaps using ideas like Lean – and, to do that, it will need to foster new behaviours; like being more open, being naturally collaborative and being more entrepeneurial. The Efficiency and Reform Group [of the Cabinet Office] should attend explicitly to nurturing such new behaviours.

Pay specialists more than their managers? “If government wants more talent, then it must be able pay the market rate for the people it needs and then provide them with hugely satisfying work in an affirming, supportive environment so that they stay around. This will be far cheaper and, in most cases, better than hiring long-term contractors. If this means paying specialists (sometimes considerably) more than their managers, so be it. There’s a real cultural hump to be got over here.”

More on Mark Foden’s views

Excerpts from report on GovIT: Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach

By Tony Collins

Today’s comprehensive report on the government’s use of IT is replete with strong and important messages, particularly on the domination of government IT by a small number of large suppliers, so-called systems integrators.

That said, Techmarketview, which tracks developments in the IT supplier market, has today attacked the report of the Public Administration Select Committee.  Techmarketview’s analyst Georgina O’Toole concedes she has not looked carefully at the full report but says she is irritated by the summary’s sensationalism.

It may be worth remembering that Parliamentary committees compete with each other for media attention. A bland report will be pointless: it won’t be read. Today’s report of the PASC, though, seeks more often than not to give the balacing view whenever it says something tendentious.  

For ease of explanation the Committee’s report “Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach” refers to government as if it were a single entity.

But government is, to some extent, at war with itself. The Cabinet Office is trying to have more influence over departments, in encouraging them to use SMEs,  adopt agile methods, simplify working practices and cut costs; and while the Cabinet Office has a mandate from David Cameron to enforce its wishes, in practice departments are giving strong reasons for not acting:

-long-term contracts are already in force

– EC procurement rules mean that SMEs cannot be preferred over other suppliers

– SMEs give insufficient financial assurances and could go bust at any time

– there are not enough internal staff and skills to manage a plethora of smaller companies

– existing (large) suppliers employ hundreds of SME as subcontractors.

There’s a particularly telling passage in the PASC report. It gave details of an exchange between the Department of Work and Pensions and Erudine, an SME. The Committee was given details of the exchange during a private session.

Erudine had given the department a way of migrating a legacy system onto a more modern, cheaper platform, which could generate potential savings of around £4m a year.

A senior DWP IT official rejected the proposal and suggested that the department was maintaining an interest in SMEs for political reasons – the government’s wish for 25% of contracts to be given to SMEs. This was part of what the DWP official said to Erudine:

“.. we have as you know an ‘interest’ in having SMEs present and working in the department for good political reasons. So you have other value to us … purely political.

“You guys need to be realistic. I will be very candid with you […] it is a huge amount of bother to deal with smaller organisations. Huge. And we wouldn’t necessarily do that because it doesn’t make our lives simpler.”

The Department declined to comment on the exchange and said the views expressed did not represent its own. It told the Committee that in 2009/10 SMEs made up 29.3% of their supplier base, either as a prime contractor or a subcontractor.

The Committee welcomed this assurance from the Department but added:

“… this account does suggest that attitudes at official level risk undermining ministers’ ambitions to increase the number of SMEs Government contracts with directly”.

These are other extracts from the PASC report:

Overcharging by large suppliers – an obscene waste of public money?

They [SMEs] also alleged that a lack of benchmarking data enabled large systems integrators (SIs) to charge between seven  to ten  times more than their standard commercial costs.

**

Having described the situation as an “oligopoly” it is clear the Government is not happy with the current arrangements. Whether or not this constitutes a cartel in legal terms, it has led to the perverse situation in which the governments have wasted an obscene amount of public money.

The Government should urgently commission an independent, external investigation to determine whether there is substance to these serious allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and collusion. The Government should also provide a trusted and independent escalation route to enable SMEs confidentially to raise allegations of malpractice.

Vested interests suppress innovation?

We received suggestions from some SMEs that the major systems integrators used legacy systems as leverage to maintain their dominance. Some SMEs reported that there were solutions that could easily transfer data from old platforms, but that a combination of risk aversion and vested interests prevented these solutions being adopted

Large IT contractors are “not performing well”

The Government’s analysis has shown that its large IT contractors are not performing well. A Cabinet Office review in September 2010 of the performance of the 14 largest IT suppliers found that none of them were performing to a “good” or “excellent” level, with average performance being a middling “satisfactory with some strengths”. Some were performing significantly worse.

Openness would help to cut costs

Making detailed information on IT expenditure publicly available for scrutiny would enhance the Government’s ability to generate savings, by allowing external challenge of its spending decisions.

The Government has already taken steps to provide more information about IT projects and expenditure in general, especially through the work of the Transparency Board and its publication of contracts on Contract Finder. To realise the full benefits of transparency, this is not sufficient. More information should be made public by default.

It should publish as much information as possible about how it runs its IT to enable effective benchmarking and to allow external experts to suggest different and more economical and effective ways of running its systems

Will government objectives be achieved?

We received numerous reports from SMEs about poor treatment by both Government departments and large companies who sub-contract government work to SMEs. There is a strong suspicion that the Government will be diverted from its stated policy and that its objective will not be achieved.

The drawbacks of using SMEs as subcontractors to large suppliers

“… subcontracting could lead to the Government paying a high price as it had to cover the margin of both the sub and prime contractor.

**

SMEs approached us informally to express concerns based on their own experiences of subcontracting. We heard of cases where systems integrators [large IT suppliers] had involved SMEs in the bidding process so they could demonstrate innovation, only for the SME to be dropped after award of contract.

In some of these cases SMEs felt that they have provided innovative ideas which had then been exploited by the larger systems integrators. We were also told by SMEs that by subcontracting with an SI they were barred from approaching government directly with ideas that might allow it to radically transform its services and reduce costs. This was because systems integrators did not want the Government to be provided with ideas that could result in them losing business, or having to reduce costs.

“… When we put these [SME] concerns to the Government we were told that their contracting arrangements did not stop subcontractors speaking directly to Departments…However, during our private seminar with SMEs, we were told that this did not reflect their experiences. SMEs reported that they were instructed to approach the systems integrator first in order to obtain permission to talk to a Department and that some Departments refused to deal with them directly.

**

We take seriously the concerns expressed by many SMEs that by speaking openly to the Government about innovative ideas they risk losing future business particularly if they are already in a sub-contracting relationship with a systems integator.

Government should deal directly with SMEs

The Government should reiterate its willingness to speak to SMEs directly, and commit to meeting SMEs in private where this is requested. We recommend that the Government establish a permanent mechanism that enables SMEs to bring innovative ideas directly to government in confidence, thereby minimising the risk of losing business with prime contractors.

Is government policy shutting out SMEs even more?

“…the Government has been moving to act as a single buyer to obtain economies of scale… This approach can be counter-productive. The effect of demand aggregation can be to aggregate supply, further concentrating contracts in the hands of a few large systems integrators.

Departments are following instructions from the Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group to switch away from their existing direct SME contracting arrangements in favour of centralised procurement models. This would mean that SMEs would become tier 2 suppliers behind selected large suppliers, preventing SMEs from contracting directly with departments. The Cabinet Office has confirmed that:

Spend is being channelled into three current channels: a) existing framework contracts where spot buying is undertaken centrally (this is known as Home Office Cix), b) department-specific arrangements based on their unique needs (such as FCO’s arrangements with Hays) and c) an existing contract with Capita, owned and managed by DWP and available to all government departments.

It is unclear to us how narrowing the supply channels will create a more open and competitive market. The nature of this supply-side aggregation of SMEs under large contracts appears to be in direct contradiction of the policy articulated by the Minister when he indicated his desire to encourage Departments to secure more direct contracting with SMEs.

“… the Government’s plan to act as a single buyer appears to be leading to a consolidation towards a few large suppliers. This could act against its intention to reduce the size of contracts and increase the number of SMEs that it contracts with directly. We are particularly concerned with plans to move SME suppliers to an “arm’s length” relationship with Government. The Government needs to explain how it will reconcile its intentions to act as a single buyer, secure value for money and reduce contract size to create more opportunities for SMEs.

Procurement barriers for SMEs

The way procurement currently operates favours large companies that can afford to commit the staff and resources to navigate the convoluted processes. It also encourages the Government to confine discussions to as few potential contractors as possible.

If the Government is serious about increasing the amount of work it awards to SMEs it must simplify the existing processes

**

We recommend that the Government investigate the practices which seem unintentionally to disadvantage SMEs. When contracts and pre-qualifying questions are drawn up thought must be given to what impact they could have on the eligibility and ability of SMEs to apply for work, and whether separate provision should be made for SMEs. We believe it would be preferable if the default procurement and contractual approach were designed for SMEs, with more detailed and bespoke negotiation being required only for more complex and large scale procurements.

Have Departments the people and skills to handle more SMEs?

Increasing the use of SMEs will place extra pressure on departments. The management of smaller organisations is currently outsourced to the large systems integrators.

For example the Aspire framework provides HMRC with access to over 200 IT suppliers. Mr Pavitt, HMRC Chief Information Officer said that:

“managing those individually would be quite a heavy bandwidth for a Government department”.

It is not clear that Departments are willing to take on the additional work that contracting directly with SMEs implies even where this could yield significant savings…

Ministers need to ensure their officials have the skills, capacity and above all the willingness to deliver on ministerial commitments to SMEs.

On agile methods:

“… greater use of agile development is likely to necessitate behaviour changes within Government. As agile methodology requires increased participation from the business to provide feedback on different iterations of the solution, departments will need to release their staff, particularly senior staff with overall responsibility of the project, to allow them to participate in these exercises.

Agile development is a powerful tool to enhance the effectiveness and improve the outcomes of Government change programmes. We welcome the Government’s enthusiasm and willingness to experiment with this method. The Government should be careful not to dismiss the very real barriers in the existing system that could prevent the wider use of agile development.

We therefore invite the Government to outline in its response how it will adapt its existing programme model to enable agile development to work as envisaged and how new flagship programmes will utilise improved approaches to help ensure their successful delivery….

The Government will have to bear in mind the need to facilitate agile development as it renegotiates the EU procurement directive and revises the associated guidance.

Need for more people with the right skills to manage suppliers

Managing suppliers is as important as deciding who to contract with in the first place. To be able to perform both of these functions government needs the capacity to act as an intelligent customer. This involves having a small group within government with the skills to both procure and manage a contract in partnership with its suppliers.

Currently the Government seems unable to strike the right balance between allowing contractors enough freedom to operate and ensuring there are appropriate controls and monitoring in-house.

The Government needs to develop the skills necessary to fill this gap. This should involve recruiting more IT professionals with experience of the SME sector to help deliver the objective of greater SME involvement.

When disaster strikes is anyone responsible?

We are concerned that despite the catalogue of costly project failures rarely does anyone – suppliers, officials or ministers – seem to be held to account. It is therefore important that, when SROs do move on they should remain accountable for those decisions taken on their watch, and that Ministers should be held accountable when this does not happen.

Open source and open standards

Recent initiatives such as the Skunkworks team, dotgovlabs, data.gov.uk, and the Alphagov project suggest that the Government is moving in this direction

Government should omit references to proprietary products and formats in procurement notices, stipulating business requirements based on open standards. The Government should also ensure that new projects, programmes and contracts, and where possible existing projects and contracts, mandate open public data and open interfaces to access such data by default..

Report’s conclusion

“… The last 10 years have seen several failed attempts at reform. The current Government seems determined to succeed where others have failed and we are greatly encouraged by its progress to date.

“Numerous challenges remain and fundamentally transforming how Government uses IT will require departments to engage more directly with innovative firms, to integrate technology into policy-making and reform how they develop their systems.

“The fundamental requirement is that Government needs the right skills, knowledge and capacity in-house to deliver these changes. Without the ability to engage with IT suppliers as an intelligent customer – able to secure the most efficient deal and benchmark its costs – and to understand the role technology can play in the delivery of public services, Government is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Links:

Jerry Fishenden, adviser to the PASC, gives his view of the report.

Today’s Public Administration Committee report: Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach

Government reliance on large IT suppliers is recipe for rip-offs.

Government IT rip-offs – surely time for a new approach – my view of the report

Techmarketview on the report

Good analysis of PASC report – Centre for Technology Policy Research.

MPs to publish report on Govt IT rip-offs – “time for a new approach”

By Tony Collins

On Thursday the Public Administration Select Committee will publish “Government and IT— a recipe for rip-offs: time for a new approach”.

The report is the culmination of months of investigation by the Committee and its advisers into the way government buys and uses IT.

The Committee’s witnesses included representatives of SMEs who suggested that government IT is dominated by a few large suppliers that charge too much and suppress innovation.

One of the SME representatives, Martin Rice, said the IT industry should apologise.  He told the Committee: “I think the IT industry should  publicly apologise to the citizen for the rip-offs of the last 10 or 20 years.”

He added:
“We are reinventing the wheel and it should not be allowed.  As a taxpayer, I am very angry about this … A lot of these problems have been solved; they are not being brought to the Government because of the oligarchy.  It is not in a profitable interest to bring you these paradigms.  That is why I feel the oligarchy has to stop…”
In written evidence Rice said that prime contractors, being the gatekeepers for some projects, “can and do prevent deployment of innovation that can make subsequent change requests cheap or quick to do as they threaten their lucrative revenue streams”.
Lawyer Susan Atkinson was among those who argued in their written evidence that agile methods can be usefully adopted by departments.

Cabinet Office takes on open-source specialist

By Tony Collins

“Let’s not waste this great opportunity to make British government IT the most effective and least expensive service per head in Western Europe.”

 An open source advocate and critic of the high costs of government IT, Liam Maxwell, is joining the Cabinet Office for 11 months  to provide expertise on how civil servants can use innovative new technology to deliver better, cheaper solutions.

His secondment from Eton College where he is ICT head underlines the determination of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, to continue bringing in strong people to oversee major changes in the way government works.

What remains unclear, however, is how much influence the Cabinet Office will have on autonomous government departments and their permanent secretaries.

Although David Cameron has given his personal backing to the changes being sought by the Cabinet Office, the PM has  little or no direct control over what departments do or don’t do.

Simon Dickson at Puffbox points out that Liam Maxwell has said all the right things in the past. Maxwell co-wrote a 2008 paper for the Tories on ‘Open Source, Open Standards: Reforming IT procurement in Government’, and also a 2010 paper Better for Less‘ for the Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age, which said:

“British Government IT is too expensive. Worse, it has been designed badly and built to last. IT must work together across government and deliver a meaningful return on investment. Government must stop believing it is special and use commodity IT services much more widely.

“As we saw with the Open Source policy, the wish is there. However, the one common thread of successive technology leadership in government is a failure to execute policy.

“There is at last a ministerial team in place that “gets it”. The austerity measures that all have to face should act as a powerful dynamic for change. Let’s not waste this great opportunity to make British government IT the most effective and least expensive service per head in Western Europe.” 

In a statement, the Cabinet office said that Maxwell will help to develop ideas for how technology can:

– increase the drive towards open standards and open source software

– help SMEs to enter the government marketplace

– maintain a horizon scan of future technologies and methods

– develop new, more flexible ways of delivery in government

Ian Watmore, the Government’s Chief Operating Officer said: “Liam’s insight and knowledge will make him a valuable source to the team over the coming year. He has a strong track record of delivering success in government ICT and he also brings significant experience of turning the theory into practice.”

Dickson said that Maxwell was a Windsor and Maidenhead councillor who drove the debate a year or so ago on councils switching to Open Document Format, part of OpenOffice.

The Guardian said Maxwell has been an adviser to the  Conservative party on government ICT.  At the Cabinet Office he will advise the Efficiency and Reform Group and Ian Watmore. He will begin the job in September and is taking a sabbatical from Eton.