The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is starting to roll out its IT transformational programme.
The department says it aims to deliver a service tower-based model to separate IT into its component parts. It believes this will allow greater competition for services, provide better alignment to the DWP's business needs and encourage a higher penetration of SME providers.
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The details of the department's strategy can be found in the document DWP Revised SME Action Plan – May 2014. This shows how the department plans to increase its spend with SMEs, in line with the government's aspiration to allocate 25% of IT expenditure to smaller companies.
The first 'tower' that the DWP will deliver is security, kicking off this month with plans to spend £2.225m on security contracts.
“The commercial strategy for the new security contracts is to deliver value for money, an innovative, agile approach, with trusted providers to the public sector who offer a flexible adaptive solution to meet DWP needs,” the document says.
The DWP says its security commercial team will strive to achieve at least a 25% share for SMEs in future contracts, with the G-Cloud framework offering the primary source of procurement.
Other 'service towers' include networks, hosting, tooling and transitional services. All will be overseen by a service integration and management (SIAM) integrator.
The Post Office has also adopted a tower model for its IT in providing front-office application services for branches, the web, mobile and call centres.
The DWP's IT transformation programme is focusing on addressing its reliance on costly, inflexible legacy systems and moving to a more digital approach to align with the Whitehall-wide “digital by default” plans set out by the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service.
Back in January, the DWP completed an internal audit of its IT strategy. At the time, insiders said the audit revealed major gaps between the department's IT strategy and the wider government digital strategy, as well as failings in IT architecture and a lack of performance measures to track the success of the DWP’s technology.
In October 2013, Kevin Cunnington was appointed director general for digital transformation at the DWP, and was later put in charge of IT development for key DWP projects, such as the troubled Universal Credit programme and the single-tier pension scheme, after Andy Nelson resigned as CIO, suggesting that the scope of the CIO role has diminished since Nelson’s appointment.