CIOs in the public sector say that transformational government is starting to succeed, making it quicker and easier for people to file tax returns online, claims benefits and get, or exchange, information.
The CIOs and other senior government officers were speaking at Government IT 09 at the Queen Elizabeth 11 conference centre in London on 4 February 2009. Their upbeat presentations drew attention to the more important successful IT-based projects and programmes in central and local government, which rarely make the headlines.
Record numbers of self-assessment taxpayers - nearly six million - filed their tax returns online by the deadline of 31 January, and without disaster stories, said Kevin McLean, director of strategy and policy, Transformational Government, at the Cabinet Office.
Pensioners can claim pension credit, housing and council tax benefits with one phone call, he said. John Widdowson, director of Information Assurance a director of CESG, part of the government communications headquarters, GCHQ, said that eight million people a month visit the UK government's official website, Directgov, and ten million drivers renewed their car tax online.
Dean James, corporate IT chief operating officer at the Department for Work and Pensions, said his staff have a single view of claimants through the Customer Information System.
Phil Pavitt, group CIO for Transport for London, said, "Doing transformational government is complex, politically hard, but rewarding when you do it."
Transformational government is the name Whitehall gives to a strategy, launched in 2005, to improve services to the public using technology. The aims include avoiding duplication of work through shared services, preventing costly mistakes and making it easier for citizens to deal with government departments and agencies. There are an estimated 50,000 IT professionals working in the public sector.
Steve Palmer, head of ICT at the London Borough of Hillingdon and senior vice-president at Socitm, the Society of IT Management, told delegates to Government IT 09. "Adversity brings opportunity. Do not lose focus. Transformational government is a programme, a journey, not a quick fix and it is starting to work."