Government ICT Strategy Launched

March 29, 2011

The Government has published it latest ICT Strategy document. As well as cutting costs, the strategy aims to encourage more innovation and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) participation in Government contracts. The strategy sets out the methods, policies and skills that will be adopted to ensure that government ICT supports efficient public services. 

Francis Maude also announced the appointment of 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

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.