Cabinet Office report suggests ministry levy for IT projects

Whitehall departments could face a mandatory levy to pay for key "common good" projects within the government's new IT strategy if the recommendations of the Cabinet Office's Strategy Project Team are adopted.

Whitehall departments could face a mandatory levy to pay for key "common good" projects within the government's new IT strategy if the recommendations of the Cabinet Office's Strategy Project Team are adopted.

The report was produced for the CIO Council and the Service Transformation Board, which will be set up as part of the government IT strategy announced in early November.

The Cabinet Office has emphasised that the strategy team's report is "a working, internal discussion document" and is "not itself a statement of government policy or of approved recommendations". Even so, the report was published by the Cabinet Office alongside its government IT strategy documents.

It urges the Treasury to, "consider mechanisms, including a system of mandatory levies on existing departmental budgets, to fund common good or infrastructure investments proposed by the CIO Council or the Service Transformation Board".

The formal IT strategy document says that about £1.4bn - 10% of the £14bn spent each year by government on technology - could be "unlocked" from the cost of running legacy systems. This money could, according to the IT strategy, be "released to new technology-enabled reforms in public services".

The research paper calls for a common infrastructure, "where  government services converge around the citizen and organisations adopt commercial off-the-shelf technology solutions".

It says that "common technology will enable joined-up solutions, leverage investments and shorten the implementation timeframe of new reforms".

To facilitate the reforms the paper wants government to form a "user-led Common Infrastructure Board" which should be supported from the Cabinet Office and "financed through user investment".

It should set out a roadmap and timetable for the delivery of common infrastructure.

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