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Info Chief to get more power

Cabinet Office releases reform plan

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The government is planning to increase the power of its chief information officer as part of a range of measures within the Cabinet Office Structural Reform Plan.

The plan (pdf) said the move will be a key element of of reducing the cost structure of ICT in central government.

The first point in the plan's section on ICT strategy says the Cabinet Office intends to increase the powers of the CIO, a position currently held by John Suffolk, to provide for a better integrated approach to providing the infrastructure.

It says that it will set up a new CIO office and increase the powers of the position by August of this year, then start to introduce a cross-departmental asset register on a common ICT infrastructure by April of next year. It also includes plans to publish performance details of all ICT projects worth more than £1m, beginning in September.

Other elements of the plan include conducting negotiations with suppliers over the next six months to reduce the annual spending on ICT, and identifying the projects that terminated or decommissioned. It aims to complete this by March 2011.

There are plans, divided into three elements, to create a new procurement process with the support of HM Treasury. They are as follows:

  • Identify the pipeline of upcoming and ongoing tenders and negotiations by August.
  • Agree with the Treasury the conditions under which a project can be released from the recently imposed moratorium, to be complete by July.
  • Work with the Office of Government Commerce – which has now been moved into the Cabinet Office – on a new approach to ICT procurement aimed at shortening timescales and making greater uses of small and medium enterprises.

The department also plans to create new processes for commissioning and running IT projects and services. This involves measures that were outlined in the Conservative Party's pre-election Technology Manifesto: encouraging the use of open source software; establishing government-wide open standards; establishing an IT "skunkworks" team of developers; and publishing guidance on the £100m maximum contract size.

Under the 'Transparency' section of the document, the Cabinet Office confirms the plan to create a new "right to data" in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice. This will involve ensuring that government-held datasets can be requested and used by the public, and that all non-personal datasets are published on a regular basis in an open and standardised format.

The Cabinet Office said it is the first government department to publish its reform plan, and that others will follow "in due course".

This article was originally published at Kable.

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