Big moves were made to try and reform the way government does IT this year, with the long-awaited release of public sector open standard principles to enable greater system interoperability, and the launch of the single domain website Gov.uk, which will become the single portal for all government sites.
But perhaps most ground-breaking was the launch of the CloudStore, in its attempt to create price transparency and give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a level playing field to compete with much larger suppliers. This year also saw a change in IT leadership, with noted reformer Liam Maxwell taking the role of chief technology officer (CTO).
However, while there is clearly a strong appetite for change, there are also signs that old habits do not die easily. Spend on the Universal Credit IT mega-project appears to be spiraling out of control, with the programme head having stepped down amid a leadership shake-up. And recent moves to change the IT leadership structure have raised concerns among reformers that the change agenda could get diluted.
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Whitehall departments have been paying up to three times more than others for the use of near-identical software, a Computer Weekly investigation into IT spend across government has revealed.
The government launched its CloudStore, a catalogue of 1,700 cloud-based, pre-approved IT services now available for the public sector to purchase. The store was built by UK SME Solidsoft and hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud. It is split into four categories of infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service (PaaS and SaaS), plus consultancy services.
As Ministry of Justice CIO Andy Nelson takes the position as government CIO and a new deputy is about to be appointed, Computer Weekly examined the qualities the next CIO leadership will need if they are to succeed in the implementation phase of the government’s ICT strategy.
Patients will be able to access their own health records electronically and book appointments with GPs online by 2015, the Department of Health said in long-awaited Health Information Strategy.
Two government departments migrated onto the Gov.uk site, as part of the first moves to bring all departmental information under a single domain. The home pages of the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government, including the Driving Standards Agency, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) and the Planning Inspectorate, are now available on Gov.uk.
Whitehall launched its long-awaited response to the open standards consultation, which will force government bodies to comply with its list of "Open Standards Principles" when purchasing technology.
The government's IT leadership team is to undergo a major organisational reshuffle, according to a notice from Cabinet Office chief operating officer (COO) Stephen Kelly seen by Computer Weekly.
Malcolm Whitehouse, programme director for the government's £2.2bn Universal Credit initiative, has stepped down from the role. Whitehouse is to be replaced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits director Hilary Reynolds and will remain in his position in the short-term to help manage the leadership transition. His next position is yet to be announced.
The government is to put an end to large ICT frameworks following a review into the efficacy of procurement practices for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Under the plans, government will cease the Application Development, Delivery and Support Service (ADDSS) and Hosting Services procurements and Service Integration & Management Services (SIAM) will not be progressed through the framework route.
The government has named the first public services to go digital, following the publication of 18 individual departmental digital strategies outlining moves to digital by default public services. The strategies detail how departments will respond to agreed digital actions, including how they will enable in-house digital capability and which transactional services will become the digital by default services.