Government IT reform - now the real battle starts
Computer Weekly - Despite the understandable scepticism that was aired about the
government's IT reform plans when the coalition came to power, it is
worth reflecting on some of the achievements that have been delivered
- The new Gov.UK website launched, on time, and at a much reduced cost, replacing the ungainly Directgov. The site was developed using agile methodologies, open source software, and has published all its work for others to share. You simply cannot imagine any of that happening two or three years ago.
- The G-Cloud project has created an online software and services catalogue, Cloudstore, packed with small suppliers, with publicly available pricing, and a procurement regime that avoids the need for endless EU-compliant buying processes. G-Cloud is starting to show how, for certain IT purchases at least, SME suppliers can compete on a level playing field with the oligopoly of large systems integrators that dominate Whitehall IT.
- We now have an open standards policy for IT that openly rides roughshod over the demands of proprietary software suppliers to protect their incumbencies. Open source can compete on an equal basis. And the cost of lock-in is now attributed to the existing supplier from the outset, not to the cost of replacing them.
Just those three initiatives alone promise to end several of the most frequently cited criticisms of past government IT - namely, too costly and inefficient; not enough SMEs; the restrictions from European procurement rules; no open source; no open standards; too much lock-in to big incumbents; and not enough use of modern software development techniques.
It would be wrong to underestimate how far the IT reformers in Whitehall have come to reach this point. But the real battles lie ahead.