Feeds

Gov ICT strategy for system upgrades needs a system upgrade

Menace of PIECEMEAL STRANDS must be ENDED

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The Institute for Government (IfG) has urged the government to "broaden out" its ICT strategy to demonstrate more clearly how to turn the strategy from a collection of technical strands into a "clear articulation of how it will help citizens".

In a report, "System upgrade? The first year of the government's ICT strategy", the IfG argues that although there has been tangible progress in implementing ICT more effectively within government, there are still areas where the government continues to stumble.

As part of its report methodology, the institute carried out interviews with a number of government and departmental CIOs, who said that while they were aware of the different strands of the government's ICT strategy, many struggled to describe the overall aims of the strategy as a whole.

While many were strongly supportive of the different delivery strands, some felt that the strategy "doesn't hang together". Described as a 'technical' strategy, it was viewed as lacking a defined customer or a clear sense of how implementing the different strands will add up to an improved user experience.

There were also concerns both inside and outside government about how the interdependencies between the strands would be managed as well as a lack of clarity on how different elements of the strategy would be enforced.

One respondent asked, "Is this a mandatable strategy or a reference document?"

Although the Public Services Network and the Cloudstore elements of the cross-government programme have been recognised as some of the most significant achievements of the government's ICT strategy to date, and there is a recognition that agile development – a key element of the IfG's original report on the ICT strategy - is being more widely deployed, the government's ability to hit the milestones set out in its strategic implementation plan and the financial savings being delivered have been questioned.

The institute says that the CIO delivery board - comprising the CIOs of the big-spending departments and the leaders of the government digital and commercial agendas - has worked "very well" in creating a manageable leadership forum and has been effective in getting the crucial buy-in from the larger departments.

It adds, however, that as leaders broaden their engagement, they will need to "up their game" in communicating a clear positive vision of what the ICT strategy can deliver to different groups.

Hardest of these may be getting the right links and engagement with their colleagues outside the ICT profession to ensure that decision makers understand how elements of the ICT strategy will support business objectives.

In its conclusions, the institute argues that the government should seriously consider whether to:

  • Ensure that the government CIO is consulted in CIO appraisals, at which he should present his view of departmental ICT performance and intelligence on CIOs' pan-government contribution. It also argues that the CIO should also provide a sounding board for questions from departmental leaders as required.
  • Ensure that the government CIO is always consulted regarding departmental CIO appointments and provides input into the setting of CIO's corporate objectives, where appropriate.
  • Collectively agree the key performance metrics that should be used to support CIO performance discussions (and publish them). It suggests it is important to recognise differences between departments – in terms of what they do, organisational maturity and history. However, working together, CIOs should be able to develop a common way of judging performance, even if aspects of performance measurement are tailored to individual departments.
  • Explore the potential for more widespread use of peer review across the CIO community. Although several CIOs currently volunteer for review by colleagues, it may be useful to regularise this.
  • Build closer relationships with the civil service leadership, in order to advocate a new relationship between departmental leaders and ICT leaders. The civil service leadership should be more demanding of ICT and ICT professionals should be more demanding of the civil service leadership, promoting the changes in overall working practices needed to deliver ICT solutions effectively.

Chris Pennell, principal analyst at public sector market intelligence firm Kable, said: "While the report acknowledges successes to date such as the Public Services Network, success here is due more to collective thinking than Whitehall mandation, and highlights the need to ensure buy in across the wider CIO community if the strategy is to be a success in the future.

"This will require improving engagement with CIOs across Whitehall, not just the big six departments, if organisations are to move from addressing the different strands in a piecemeal fashion as highlighted in the report. Engagement with the supplier community will also be critical. Long term engagement is the best way to achieve the objectives laid out in the strategy."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.