NAO praises UK government's new approach to IT

21 December 2011

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22 December 2011 | Adam Leach

Mixed teams of buyers, IT professionals and senior heads from government departments overseeing IT purchasing is a step in the right direction although challenges remain, a report concludes.

Implementing the Government ICT Strategy: Six-month review of progress, published yesterday by the National Audit Office (NAO), said the current government approach to implementing an IT strategy provided a greater chance of it being adopted across departments than previous efforts.

In order to increase project teams skills the government has brought together procurement and IT professionals with government chief information officers (CIOs) and senior directors from the six highest spending departments. On this, the report said: “This mix of staff from across government are making sure that strategy solutions are aligned with the business needs of departments.”

NAO chief Amyas Morse, said: “The government ICT strategy is in its early days and initial signs are good. However, new ways of working are as dependent on developing the skills of people in the public sector as they are on changes to technology and processes.”

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, said: “We are determined to deliver world-class public services that offer value for taxpayers’ money, and we know that effective and efficient ICT is a critical part of making this happen. The NAO report shows we are going about this the right way, by commending our progress so far.”

While it took an overall positive view of progress to address the skills gap in the medium to long term, the report highlighted that short-term progress, remained a “serious challenge”. It said: “The Cabinet Office and departments and agencies need to immediately address capability gaps, particularly in procurement, supplier relationship management, new methods [of delivery] and digital services.”

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office told SM that action was already under way to make use of people’s expertise: “Senior responsible owners for delivery areas will establish the skills they need. The new delivery model and allocation of responsibilities has been designed to leverage the skills and expertise in their existing teams.”

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