Government IT strategy ‘lacks detail on delivery', say MPs

The government's IT strategy is hugely ambitious but lacks detail about how it will be delivered, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has found.

The government's IT strategy is hugely ambitious but lacks detail about how it will be delivered, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has found.

The scope of the government's IT strategy, published in March, is large, with some 30 actions to be delivered in just 24 months, but lacks quantitative targets, according to the Information and Communications Technology report. It also lacks a baseline of current performance, which will make it difficult to measure success, found the report.

"Simply listing actions to be achieved within two years is not good enough," head of the PAC Margaret Hodge MP will say at a meeting today.

Hodge welcomed the move towards smaller, more iterative projects, but said: "The implementation plan due to be published this summer must include clear indicators that can be used by this committee to evaluate the success of the strategy and whether it is delivering good value for money."

A lack of detail regarding cybersecurity was also flagged as an area of concern, along with details of how to include more SMEs in government projects and a failure to address the lack of time given to senior responsible owners to devote to a project.

Widespread collaboration challenge

The success of the strategy will depend on its new principles being adopted across the government IT and supplier communities, chief information officers and by policy makers in the wider civil service, not just the Cabinet Office.

Some of the strategy's aims, such as creating a common and secure IT infrastructure, are perhaps not ambitious technically, but in their need for more collaborative behaviour, it said. Greater rates of adoption of technology, and changes in the behaviour of ministers and civil servants who are involved in setting policy to stimulate behaviour change by suppliers will also be required, found the report.

"We recognise that the strategy is in its early stages and we will watch progress with interest," added the report.

Ultimately, success will be shown when complex change programmes such as the Department for Work and Pensions' Universal Credit are delivered on time and to budget, and the committee sees fewer critical NAO reports on projects such as the NHS Programme for IT (NPfIT) and the Rural Payments Agency's Single Payment Scheme, it said.


Photo: Jupiterimages

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