2013 review

Top 10 public sector IT stories of 2013

Caroline Baldwin

This year has been up and down for public sector IT within government. Universal credit has been widely criticised for writing off millions of pounds of wasted IT, while we end the year with on-going arguments between the Department for Work and Pensions saying there is “no debacle on Universal Credit”, while the National Audit Office continues to find holes in the department’s IT strategy.

On the other hand, a year has passed since the government launched its digital strategy. Over the past 12 months the “digital by default” agenda has resulted in highly praised delivery of a single government website, GOV.UK, which consolidated websites from across government on to a single platform. In doing so, it scrapped 1,700 websites that were wasteful and confusing to the public.

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The government digital service (GDS) has strived to transform 25 key services from across government in order for them to become digital. However, one of these services is Universal Credit.

Read Computer Weekly's selection of the top ten public sectors stories:

1. DWP ministers to decide whether to scrap all of the £300m Universal Credit IT

Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are to decide whether to immediately scrap all of the £300m Universal Credit IT systems and start again from scratch.

In November, Computer Weekly learnt that a review by Universal Credit director general Howard Shiplee will recommend two options for the future of the IT developed so far, which go further than previous reports have suggested.

2. Government’s digital strategy is progressing, but inconsistently

A review into the government’s digital strategy has reported that "digital by default" is on track, but 200 website still need to move over to the central government website, GOV.UK.

3. Is this the future for local government IT?

The London Borough of Hounslow has been leading visionary "government as a platform" services, which could transform the way citizens interact with local government through digital means, such as reporting a broken streetlight via your mobile phone as you walk past.

4. The challenges of using mobile devices in the public sector

The government is officially allowing public sector organisations to introduce bring your own device (BYOD) schemes for employees to access data and applications using their own mobile devices.

The regulations mean for the first time local authorities are officially allowed to use BYOD schemes, but it is clear from the report that CESG would prefer public bodies not to do so.

It places several restrictions on how staff-owned devices must be used, and implicitly acknowledges that CESG would prefer public bodies not to offer BYOD if possible.

5. Councils threatened with disconnection from PSN in escalating security row

One London council was just hours away from being disconnected from the public sector communications network, Computer Weekly has learnt.

The unnamed council is just one of many across the country that has been threatened with disconnection from the Public Services Network (PSN) for failing to comply with “highly prescriptive” new security rules issued by the Cabinet Office.

6. Bristol Council gets open source go-ahead after CESG discussions

Bristol City Council has been cleared to build an IT infrastructure using open-source software after a visit from CESG, the cyber security arm of the UK intelligence services.

7. CIO interview: Peter O’Rourke, director of IT, University Campus Suffolk

Peter O’Rourke, IT director at University Campus Suffolk, is looking towards students to shape the university’s IT infrastructure. He looks at how Suffolk students are interacting on social media, using a variety of devices, and consuming information in a different way.

8. MPs brand NHS National Programme for IT a 'fiasco' as posthumous costs rise

The now-axed NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is still incurring significant costs, earning it the title of "most expensive contracting fiasco". A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has stated that costs will continue to rise above the £9.8bn forecast by the Department of Health (DoH).

9. South Staffordshire College leads technology revolution in education

South Staffordshire College has been working with IBM to build a digital campus through academic teaching in an immersive technological environment. After 11 months of building work, the new Cannock campus is due to open in January 2014, with a focus on business, technology and innovation.

One of seven campuses serving 25,000 students, the college went “back to the drawing board” when designing the Cannock campus. It wanted to be platform agnostic, bring your own device (BYOD) ready, and enable virtual learning environments for the students.

10. Governments need to work with technology startups to solve social problems

During a panel session at the Open Government Partnership in London, a group of startups and investors discussed how governments across the globe could make their social projects more efficient using startup organisations.


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