Government overhauls ICT strategy

29 January 2010

29 January 2010 | Carly Chynoweth

The UK public sector has announced plans to save £3.2 billion a year by 2014 through a new government ICT strategy launched this week by cabinet minister Angela Smith.

The 14-strand strategy includes a chapter on supply management, which gives an overview of work already under way to improve the procurement of ICT. This work includes more collaboration on IT purchasing and closer working with vendors. The government hopes this will help it save £1.6 billion a year – a figure already identified by the Operational Efficiency Programme.

The strategy also says it will reduce duplication between departments by hosting services on a single shared network – referred to as “the G-Cloud”. It also says it will create a virtual marketplace that will offer organisations multiple services from multiple suppliers. The hope is it will make it quicker and easier for them to change suppliers should problems arise.

It is anticipated that the Government Application Store, to be known as G-AS (another of the 14 strands), will save the sector £500 million a year by reducing the number of unique applications and software contracts used by public sector organisations. The goal is to encourage organisations to re-use existing assets rather than purchasing new ones.

In a video released alongside the strategy, the government’s chief information officer, John Suffolk, said: “I think what makes [the strategy] different is we are moving to a next generation in the way we share services.

“One of the things I get frustrated about is the public sector invents so many fantastic solutions but no one can see them and therefore the concept of an application store [similar to that used by Apple’s iPhone] is a really massive step forward in giving people the ability to discover what we have already invented.”

However, the Cabinet Office was not able to give any examples of what applications may appear in the store because this level of detail is not yet available.

A spokeswoman said: “There will be a range of applications available and a toolkit to create new applications. The applications won't be dictated centrally - they will be produced in response to business-driven decisions by individual departments.”

The announcement comes in the same month an investigation by the Independent claimed faltering IT projects have cost the UK government £26 billion. It suggested government officials have been easily drawn into bold claims made by vendors because they lack understanding about the technology industry.

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