Francis Maude today launched a major strategy for cutting public spending on government information and communication technology (ICT) by millions of pounds. The Government ICT Strategy also aims to encourage more innovation and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) participation in government contracts.
The strategy sets out how government will adopt the right methods, policies and skills to ensure that its ICT supports efficient public services.
The Government ICT Strategy aims to cut duplication and waste in Government ICT. It sets out how government will adopt the right methods, policies and skills to ensure that its ICT supports efficient public services.
Francis Maude also announced the appointment of leading digital expert Tom Loosemore to lead work on a prototype for a single government web domain, as recommended by Government Digital Champion Martha Lane-Fox.
Francis Maude said:
For too long, government has wasted vast amounts of money on ineffective and duplicate IT systems. We need to ensure that frontline services have the tools to do their job to deliver effective public services.
We will cut out duplication and wastage by sharing more of our assets across government and using common systems.
We will end the oligopoly of big business supplying government IT by breaking down contracts into smaller, more flexible projects. This will open up the market to SMEs and new providers.
In the ICT strategy, the government commits to:
- reduce the cost of using data centres - servers which store, process and transact government-held information - by 35% over five years - cutting their carbon footprint
- move away from big bang solutions delivered by the same large suppliers to a greater number of smaller and agile projects
- publish details of government contracts and reduce bureaucracy and costs, so that new providers and SMEs have the opportunity to win government ICT contracts
- share and reuse ICT solutions and services, via a common ICT infrastructure, an ICT asset register and fully online Applications Store, to enable the reuse of business applications and components across the public sector
- enable interoperable ICT by using common and open standards, creating cross-government standards on Application Programme Interfaces and developing a quality assurance ‘kite mark’ - helping to open up new innovative services from a diverse range of providers
John Higgins, director general of Intellect, the trade association for the UK’s technology industry said:
UK taxpayers should expect the best from their public services, and this strategy provides a clear direction for how technology can help deliver better services for less. We are especially pleased to see that it recognises ICT as an enabler and not just an overhead. By adopting innovative approaches and opening up opportunities to SMEs, social enterprises, charities and other new providers, we will see a dynamic supplier ecosystem and greater benefits to the taxpayer.
“The technology industry is fully behind this strategy and we are committed to working collectively with the Government to turn it into reality.
Specifically, the strategy commits to:
- publish a toolkit for government procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open source software
- establish groups to educate, promote and facilitate the technical and cultural change needed to increase the use of open source software across government
- establish the common technology components to enable smaller, more flexible projects that can be replicated from one department to another
- identify a pilot “agile” project within each department and create a virtual centre of excellence across government and the private sector that can enable fast start-up and mobilisation for such projects
- create a programme to utilise and develop talent amongst civil servants in the field of ICT
- require Senior Responsible Officers to stay in post until an appropriate break in the ICT programme or project life to reduce the risk of project failure
As part of the government’s strategy for moving services online and allowing transparent dialogue with the public, the ICT strategy commits to:
- ensure an online channel is included in all government consultations
- develop practical guidance on departmental access to the internet and social media channels, to embed social media as a mainstream channel used routinely to engage with citizens and business
As part of the government’s commitment to involve more SMEs and voluntary sector organisations in public sector contracts, the Cabinet Office launched one such online portal earlier this week. The Innovation Launch Pad allows small and medium sized businesses to pitch their ideas on how they could deliver better value for money in the delivery of Government’s business. The best ideas will be handpicked and, after intensive mentoring from some of Britain’s foremost entrepreneurs, the successful businesses will be invited to present their ideas at a Product Surgery and to attend a Downing Street reception.
Francis Maude said:
SMEs can offer government more innovative, more flexible and more cost effective products and services, but we know they often find it difficult to bring their ideas to our attention. Through the Innovation Launch Pad, we will get better value for government and support small business. Government needs more online engagement like this.
Notes to editors**
- Government ICT drives the delivery of public services, from government web services for submission of tax returns to enabling our armed forces to operate in Afghanistan.
- Over £16 billion was spent on ICT by the public sector in 2008/09.
- Savings resulting from the ICT Strategy will help to deliver departments’ Spending Review Settlements.
- Martha Lane-Fox delivered her review of online public services on 23 November 2010.
- The Innovation Launch Pad was opened to business ideas on 28 March and closes on 22 April 2011
- Tom Loosemore was formerly the head of 4iP and a digital media strategy adviser at Ofcom. He has launched the websites UpMyStreet.com and TheyWorkforYou.com.
- A prototype for a single government web domain is expected in May 2011.
- The Government ICT Strategy resources.