The government is in the final stage of producing a document that will give the details of its IT assets and enable it to transform government IT.
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Speaking at an event focused on public sector procurement, outgoing CIO Joe Harley said that the first step in cutting IT costs and improving efficiency is to understand the IT assets you have in the first place.
He said the government is in the process of getting to this point. “We are in the final stage of publishing a government IT asset register,” he told an audience at The Crown and suppliers: A new way of working conference in London.
A presentation later by Phil Pavitt, CIO at HMRC, helped put into context the importance of understanding what assets you have if you want to combine cost-cutting with IT investments to improve services and efficiency.
Pavitt said it takes a long time to be able to see what IT assets you have and how you use them. The HMRC has, for example, 6,000 servers, 2,000 Blackberrys, 7,500 laptops and 80,000 desktops.
HMRC reduced complexity by transferring multiple instances of SAP into one “vanilla” version, which cut costs by 80%. It re-engineered 400 taxes and put them onto the single version of SAP. A total of 31 business intelligence systems were consolidated to one. In total, 900 applications were reduced to 150.
HMRC's Aurora programme, as described to Computer Weekly in July, aims to save £161m per year in IT costs, by switching off, resizing and moving IT systems. Central to that aim is Pavitt's "13 machine strategy" – the 13 business-critical applications, or "machines", that support the department, each of which now has its own strategic roadmap for consolidation and optimisation.
This retirement and reusing of IT has meant HMRC has been able to improve IT without making any capital investments.
Pavitt said the HMRC’s success can be replicated across government. “If you can get something to work in a department as big as HMRC, you can you can get it to work anywhere.”
He said the government’s spending review put the HMRC IT strategy in a difficult position, but as a result it is building a new organisation.