Government plans for US-style IT openness - by 2020

A government IT strategy to be launched next month promises more transparency on major projects, according to a draft copy seen by

“By 2020, we will follow the lead of the Office of Management and Budget and public sector CIO community in the USA by publicising the objectives and progress of our major projects, including naming the leaders and the results of all external assurance reviews,” says the draft.

The Government ICT Strategy, subtitled ‘New world, new challenges, new opportunities’, sets out the direction for government ICT until 2020.

It is quite revealing. It envisages it could take 10 years to achieve in Britain some of the openness the US government has had for years. Which shows that the UK government is as enthusiastic about openness on IT projects as it would be to a corporate visit to the dentist.

It’s likely that the IT strategy document will become of historic interest only – and by 2020 could be forgotten entirely. It’s likely there will be three general elections between 2010 and 2020. says the strategy will refresh the Transformational Government programme, aligning it with Treasury initiatives. It’s likely to be published alongside the Pre-Budget Report on 9 December. It will accompany Treasury secretary Liam Byrne’s ‘smarter government’ report, which sets out plans for rationalising Whitehall.

It also takes account of the Operational Efficiency Programme, which requires savings of £3.2bn from the more efficient use and procurement of IT.

The strategy envisages that, by 2015, 80% of central governmentdesktops will be procured through ‘a shared utility service withincreasing levels of adoption by the wider public sector, includinglocal government’.

Spending on IT people will decrease by at least 5% a year from 2010.

The draft strategy’s elements include:

– A move to the Government Cloud, which means that organisations can pay for applications only for the time they are actually in use.

– More emphasis on open source.

– A government ‘app store’. This will be an online portal that enables sharing and reuse of business applications, services and components across the public sector. ‘Reuse will become the norm, with anticipated savings of over £500m per annum by 2020,’ the draft strategy says.

Savings worth another £500m a year will come from the use of an integrated public service network by 2014, the strategy claims.

More savings will come from a rationalisation of data centres. Over the next three years,’10-12 highly resilient strategic data centres for the public sector’ will be implemented to common standards. This could save £300m a year and cut power and cooling demands.


Update: Draft report is on the Ideal Government website

William Heath writes on the site:

“@NTOUK and @williamheath are heartily fed up with half-baked government IT strategies.

“Having to read the current proposal is the last straw. Modernising Govt promised the same in 1999. The 2009 draft Government ICT Strategy – New world, new challenges, new opportunities seems oddly detached from the pressing discussions under way about public services renewal. It barely acknowledges the current economic environment. It talks of possible savings by 2020, but we need them now. It has assertions that are unsupported by any sort of evidence. It’s as if IT can potter on in a world of its own outside the mainstream realities of politics.

“The thought of actually delivering fit-for-purpose contemporary IT fit against this sort of background, of relying on public services underpinned by them, or of paying the taxes that will support them is gravely disturbing.

“People, we can do better than this.”

Link: – Government-wide IT strategy to be launched in December