PAC calls for clearer IT strategy

5 July 2011

5 July 2011 | Adam Leach

The government’s IT strategy lacks measurements to determine whether it is good value for money, according to the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC).

Published today, the PAC report Information and communications technologyin government, said Whitehall’s IT strategy lacks “metrics to measure progress” and needs to set out more clearly how it will encourage more involvement from SMEs.

The government’s IT strategy has a target of 30 actions to be delivered by March 2013, but lacks a baseline of current performance, which the PAC said will make it difficult to measure success. “Simply listing actions to be achieved within two years is not sufficient,” it said.

Outlining what needs to be done between now and August, when the final strategy will be published, PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge MP said the implementation plan “must include clear indicators that can be used by this committee to evaluate the success of the strategy and whether it is delivering good value for money”.

The document also criticised the plan’s reliance on the “small but powerful capability” in the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and ReformGroup (ERG) to control and intervene in government departments’ projects. It said: “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 policy makers in the wider civil service.”

The PAC said it welcomed “the direction and principles of the government’s new strategy for ICT”. However, it added: “This is not the first time government has set out to deliver better outcomes for citizens and businesses, and large-scale reductions in operational costs using ICT. While there have been some successful ICT projects in government, there have been far too many expensive and regrettable failures, such as the NHS Programme for IT.”

The report highlighted nine areas where the ERG must make progress before the strategy is finalised. These included implementing indicators of success to enable measuring value for money, and publishing reviews of projects as soon as they are launched.

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