The Transformational Government agenda is the most ambitious attempt to change the way government works since Sir John Hoskyns tried to apply systems thinking to Whitehall in the first days of Mrs Thatcher's government. Many commentators were therefore very sceptical as to its chances of success. The Service Transformation Agreement published as part of the support package for the Comprehensive Spending Review shows that the sceptics were both right and wrong. The task cannot be under-estimated but there now appears to be the necessary critical mass of support to enable success.
October 2007 Archives
Last week I attended the Westminster E-Forum Keynote Seminar "A UK IT Skills Gap?". Most of the discussion could have taken place in 1983, before the Butcher reports on IT Skills - but for the fact that our position, relative to the rest of the world, is so much worse and the minister who responded to the discussion did not appear to have been briefed on the scale and nature of the challenge.
The Byron Review is an independent review of the risks to children from exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in video games. At this point the blogosphere will erupt with cries of "censorship" while parents will say "about time too", Lets hope that Dr Tanya Byron comes up with something that is at least as practical and sensible as in her TV programmes.
Apart from bad jokes, in which IT was synonymous with failure and/or coplexity and unreliabilty, there was almost no mention at any of the Party Conferences of the technologies that now underpin society at every level. More-over almost no-one from the IT industry attended - even though it supposedly now employs nearly 5% of the work force. And most of those who did attend were careful not to mention their day jobs. Are you really so ashamed?
The public service agreements for the 2007 comprehensive review require departments and agencies to work across boundaries in ways that will not happen unless departments and their suppliers really do move away from the failed world of "big bang" solutions, whether in-house or outsourced. Will we see the creation of a new generation of the hire purchase (alias PFI) contracts that have enriched a generation of consultants, lawyes and salesmen at the expense of taxpayers, service recipients and shareholders alike. Or have politicians (including Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Policy Advisors) finally come to understand that it is not humanly possible to agree specifications for timely and efficient, centrally planned and controlled, user-centric systems? But who will tell them them that - when so many senior players made their reputations telling them the opposite.
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