I have finally made time to read the full text of the Institute of Government paper “System Error: fixing the flaws in Government IT“. My fears from reading the management summary were confirmed. They have written a report that will enable departments to say they are adopting agile methodologies while retaining their current centralised, consultant driven, “waterfall” (translates into “delayed big-bang” in 1980s speak) approach.
The concept of true agility, as exemplified by the organisation (larger than most government departments) whose chief executive vetoed all projects with a payback beyond the next quarter, is missing. Inside 18 months that organisation had reduced its administrative overheads by over 70%, albeit it had the advantage of doing so during a boom period when the recruitment of skilled staff was a major problem.
The ability to achieve savings by means of incremental rapid payback projects is denied to the UK public sector by its cumbersome procurement processes and idiosyncratic interpretation of the EU Procurement Directives. Last week the EURIM Public Service Delivery Group met to discuss its response to the hundred or so questions in the consultation (deadline 14th April) to aid the review of the Procurement Directives.
The group reviewed a grid of the questions and then cut to the chase – how to reform the directives so that they focussed on value for money at a time of austerity, rather than the rag bag of currently fashionable fads listed in the consultation.
We sent an interim report back to members today to see if (like Brian True-May) we had gone too far across the bounds of political incorrectness. Dependent on the early reactions I plan to make time to blog next week to help get views from a wider audience.