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Government IT strategy signed off – clouds and cuts ahead

Karl Flinders

The government has signed off the final version of its IT strategy and is awaiting ministerial approval, as it gears up to cut IT costs across Whitehall.

Government CIO John Suffolk said the final strategy document is "not far away".

The programme is expected to highlight £500m in annual savings, which include a 5% cut in spending on IT staff per year from 2010.

A draft version of the strategy was accidentally put online in November. It sets out the direction for government IT until 2020.

Suffolk said the final version will contain much that was in the draft - an acknowledgement that cost cutting will dominate public sector IT departments in coming years.

The strategy will emphasise cloud computing, open source, rationalisation of datacentres and plans for a government equivalent of Apple's App Store.

Suffolk said G-cloud - the government's cloud computing strategy - is in its design phase. It will cut costs by enabling organisations to share resources. "Just as you would not expect people to generate their own electricity, IT is becoming a utility," he said.

100 people are working on G-cloud from around the IT industry. They are helping the government get to grips with where cloud computing fits into government strategy, he said.

The government wants to create an app store so that government organisations can share applications. "One of the problems we have is that we do not know what other people have done. The app store gives a window to see what everybody has done," said Suffolk.

He said shared applications might already have contractual agreements in place which will make the procurement process easier for other government bodies. "It also lowers cost because buyers do not have to spend a lot of time researching."

Cost reductions took centre stage in Socitm's annual IT Trends survey, which looks at IT strategies in local government.

It reported an 11% fall in IT spending in 2009 compared to 2008.

John Serle, the report's author, said IT spending in local government will fall regardless of which party wins the general election.


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