Joe Harley, CIO at DWP - suppliers will give us some home truths in July

An anonymous comment has been posted to a blog suggesting that we made up the comments of Joe Harley, CIO at the Department for Work and Pensions. Joe Harley gave a speech to the “Turning the Tide Government UK IT Summit 2007” conference on 15 May 2007.

To suggest that we’d go to a government IT conference and make up a CIO’s speech is a little harsh.

To avoid any confusion about what Joe Harley said, the following is a transcript of the parts of Joe Harley’s speech we included in our articles. We also spoke to Joe Harley after his speech to check that we had understood the context of his comments.

Joe Harley spoke mainly about government IT in general. He is a member of the CIO Council. This is some of what he said:

“We have some very very demanding challenges. There’s the question of the comprehensive spending reviews. A number of departments have indeed had their allocation from the Treasury and it’s pretty tough and demanding.

“In my own department there’s a 5% year on year real reduction in spend to deliver and we don’t know in fact we’re going to do that. What we do know is that, as a government, we spend £14bn a year on IT which is huge by any stretch of the imagination.

“The numbers are huge, so huge it’s hard to get your arms around. So it’s important to bring it to life – 7,000 primary schools every year could be constructed with this amount of IT spend; 75 hospitals. 600,000 nurses and 3.28 million state pensions for one year. These are huge sums of money.

“Supplier management initiative is about creating an intervention. It’s not sustainable for us as a government to continue to spend at these levels. We need to up the quality of what we do, at a reduced cost of doing so.

“So the first step is a conversation for radical change and we have had that conversation with our key suppliers across government. Again it’s about improving performance in projects and programmes and our day to day services, as well as our procurement processes. We did this in DWP with EDS and BT in particular, and with very substantial results.

“So what’s it all about?

“It’s really about the de-risk of IT supply in government. It’s in our mutual interest to have successes here. Nobody likes the bad publicity that seems to surround a lot of what we do and good news doesn’t make the headlines.

“So we have to be a world-class customer, a world-class purchaser. We want to be best of breed… and we want to be a role model for other companies and other departments in other governments.

“We want to be tough but fair; we want to be business-like in dealing with our suppliers. We would like the “A” team to show up from our suppliers … and above all we want to exude confidence in Parliament and among commentators.

“In the supplier management initiative we set about some processes. We created the Strategic Supply Board to steer this activity. CIOs are part of that, [as well as] Intellect, industry executives representing companies, and OGC of course. .. industry, Intellect and others, all the departments and CIOs, are working together in an unprecedented sort of way.

“And we created supplier forums. This is about CIOs, sitting down with the industry and with our supplier and having a mature conversation, the adult conversation about performance and improvement. It’s a two-way street. We are not the easiest to deal with and there’s much we can improve on.

“On the Strategic Supply Board I joint chair with Tim Smart form BT, which has representatives from CIOs from the government and from industry – a lot of major companies that we do business with – what exactly are we steering in any event?

“We are steering this major endeavour firstly to improve the quality and reliability of the delivery of our projects and programmes. Today only 30% we estimate of our projects and programmes are successful. So it’s not a place for everyone to be. Why shouldn’t it be 90% successful?

“So that’s the target we have taken on, building on the success and the work which John [John Taylor, Director General Information, MoD] alluded to at the MoD.

“Secondly value for money. The taxpayer is also one of our customers of course. We want to achieve a 20% overall reduction in IT spend of government. so you can see £14bn there is an opportunity. You can do the sums yourself.

“We also feel that there are big improvements to be made in our desktop area. So we are looking for a 40% reduction in the unit costs of that.

And I talked about procurement: we want to increase by 25% per annum the number of procurements that form best practice and the ones that are running to time: again a 25% improvement per annum. And we also want to improve the cycle of procurements. Industry says it takes too long and costs too much.

“So these are the big targets. These are the big accomplishments. These are the big sums of money we think are doable. Our early insight into sharing and data centres alone we feel we could deliver 20% if we just did things differently and worked together.

“The other thing they’re steering, the supply board, is the supplier forums. For the first time we can consistently measure the performance of our supplier community across government. The supplier forums drive up performance. It’s really what they’re all about.

“And it’s two-way. In July this year we’ll be having specific feedback from industry on how well the government is doing. It’s an area, an opportunity for us, to help manage the relationships in a more strategic way that we have never done before across government….

“For the future we need a new framework for delivery of a step change in performance. On the government side we are looking for a higher level of executive sponsorship. I can tell you we have that in spades …

“[From suppliers], we are looking for enhanced performance; we want quality up; we want on-time delivery; and we want costs down and we want improved engagement with the right capabilities and the right skills showing up; and we are looking for our suppliers to bring knowledge and insight and best practice into government projects.

“In return we give high level executive sponsorship – we have it from the top of the shop here …[and]we will look to improve our procurement processes and be much more professional in dealing with our suppliers.

So where are we?

“The supplier forums are well underway. We have these meetings to improve performance two or three times a year. We have the common assessment framework and we will have this 360 degree feedback in July where we and the government will get some home truths I am sure.

“CIOs are on board with this and the Strategic Supply Board is in action and steering the activity. And all industry and government have signed up for these targets that I talked about.

“Cost reduction is underway, with 10 departments initially, focusing on the desktop area – we think that is a big opportunity area. We have decided to roll out a lot of our ideas which have come from the project strands and reliable delivery strands into 12 mission-critical programmes for the government, and we will see how that goes down in the improvements that will be made.

“The focus on procurement is a very active one. It’s the one that industry is most interested to see progress and there is much to be done there…. So that’s it from me and I hope you have a good conference.”


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