Conclusions and recommendations |
1. We welcome the direction and principles
of the Government's new strategy for ICT (the Strategy), but it
is very ambitious and short on detail about how it will be delivered.
There is a long way to go before government can say it is living
up to its claim that there is "no such thing as an IT project".
This can only be achieved when ICT is embedded in departments'
business and government reform programmes have ICT at the core
- key objectives of the new Strategy. The following recommendations
are intended to help Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group
(ERG) to tackle some of the challenges that lie ahead.
2. The Strategy lacks a baseline or metrics
to measure progress. Simply listing actions to be achieved within
two years is not sufficient. The Strategy
implementation plan, due to be published in August 2011, should
include a small number of measurable business outcomes, or direct
indicators, to enable government and this Committee to evaluate
success and whether the Strategy is delivering value for money.
3. The Strategy cannot be delivered by the
Cabinet Office alone - its successful implementation relies on
its new principles being adopted across the government ICT and
supplier communities, Chief Information Officers and by policy
makers in the wider civil service. The
Strategy envisages a small but powerful capability in the ERG,
which can control and intervene in departments' projects. To be
effective and successfully deliver its strategy for ICT and major
projects, ERG should use its new powers selectively and be able
to demonstrate that it has achieved buy-in from departments and
4. ICT-enabled projects have been too big,
too long and too ambitious and we welcome the move to shorter,
more iterative projects. ERG is introducing
'starting gate reviews' for new ICT projects to test whether projects
are small enough and deliverable. It should publish its 'starting
gate reviews' and other significant reviews carried out over the
life of the project.
5. Value for money in ICT procurement relies
on a mixed market of suppliers. The Strategy includes an aspiration
to open up the government ICT market to small- and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs). ERG now needs to set
out what the Government will do to encourage more involvement
by SMEs, and how it will measure success.
6. The Government plans to move more public
services online and, rightly, to stress the importance of designing
services around the needs of the user. However, approximately
nine million people have never used the Internet, and they must
not be excluded. ERG and other relevant
departments should withhold sign-off of additional online services
until they are satisfied that the service is designed for users.
ERG should also continue to ensure that online services are accessible
through libraries, post offices or other alternative means. When
new services are launched, these alternatives should be well publicised.
7. The Strategy only makes one reference to
cyber-security. This is particularly concerning given the move
to more government services online. The
Government has committed to increase the use of new technologies
and sharing of information, which rely on the Internet. ERG should
clarify in its implementation plan how cyber-security will be
integrated into its strategy for ICT.
8. Government has not yet assessed the number
of ICT people it has or the capacity and skills it will need in
the future. In preparing its Capability
Strategy for ICT, ERG should establish the size and capability
of the existing government ICT workforce, including the number
of cyber-security professionals, and build a model to help predict
9. There are no proposals in the Strategy
to address the longstanding problems of high turnover of Senior
Responsible Owners (SROs), their lack of experience and their
lack of accountability. While we recognise
that shorter, more manageably-sized projects will help, the ERG
should make proposals to keep SROs in post for longer where possible,
and raise and maintain their level of skills, in line with the
Government's advice on accountability. The identity of SROs should
be available on departmental websites, along with their dates