In the year after the coalition government took power, a number of significant and radical changes and new approaches to IT management in the public sector have been introduced. An important facet of the new government technology strategy, intended to reduce cost while offering better services to citizens, is the delivery of public services online.
In this CW500 Club video, deputy government CIO Bill McCluggage talks to Computer Weekly editor in chief Bryan Glick about the "digital by default" agenda and the changes in central government IT strategy.
Read the full transcript from this video below:
CW500: Bill McCluggage, deputy government CIO
Bryan Glick: Hello. Welcome to this Computer Weekly 500 Club video.
My name is Bryan Glick. I am the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Weekly.
I am here for the latest of our monthly get-togethers of IT
leaders in the CW 500 Club. This month, we have been talking
about online public services in the age of austerity, and we
have been very lucky to be joined today by Bill McCluggage.
Bill is the Deputy Governmet CIO, responsible for a lot of
the work that has been going on in drawing up the government
IT strategy. Bill leads a lot of the key initiatives that are helping
to deliver public services as a digital by default.
Bill, thank you so much for coming onto CW 500 tonight.
Bill McCluggage: Thank you very much for the invitation.
Bryan Glick: A pleasure. A lot has changed in the last 12 months
with a new government coming in, and a lot of backing
being given to yourself and your peers in the IT community,
in government. What has changed for you? What has been
the big effect of that new government coming in?
Bill McCluggage: I think the first things is the leadership style
and change, in terms of the . . . at Harvard, the environment
is what we call the authorizing environment, I suppose.
Very heavy support, strong support for change from the top.
Also, we have seen a formation of Efficiency and Reform
group in the cabinet office, so we are now in an environment
that has open plan. I see my colleagues at the director- level
on a daily basis, and there is much, much more interaction than
there was 12 months ago. We are solving problems and we are
discussing issues in minutes, rather than days or weeks.
We are actually collaborating at a level which, certainly I have
not experienced when I was in a more cellular environment in the job.
That involves interactions with John Collington, in terms of Chief
Procurement Officer, Agent Cameron ,on the Commercial Portfolio
Team, Major Projects Authority, Katherine, who is looking after strategy;
a whole range of people who previously we would have attended
occasional meetings with, but did not have essential gravity around.
That is the first change, which is actually about people,
and that, I think, the most important thing.
Bryan Glick: A lot of new initiatives have started up over the last year,
where we have got a government who has genuinely seems to
want to use the opportunity of IT to help improve public services.
What are the big challenges you are facing alone?
Bill McCluggage l: Whenever you look at what we are trying
to do, we are trying to make a very action-focused change
mechanism occur. The strategy has 30 actions in it,
a lot of it is front-loaded to generate pace.
We have got a series of people focused on reducing the
cost of the waste activities. It is not just about
IT professionals doing this, it is about working right
away across all those professions in the structural areas,
to get those things embedded, the SME activities,
the direct contact with SMEs, the reuse activities that are going on,
stimulating the activities around spending controls and
trying to generate a much greater success profile for
IT-enabled change programs.
Then, common infrastructure build; tremendous energy
and pace now. You have probably seen it, I am not sure whether
a number of people are aware of it, but the stuff that is going on with
the early implementation groups of the Public Services Network,
and local government leading the way, which is fantastic to see,
in terms of the using that opportunity.
Getting the new government conversion framework agree and issued.
That is part of that convergence framework that allows us then
to move into full PSN operations. The data centre activities
being re-established, in terms of a period when we have been
focusing largely on foundation delivery partners and bottom-up
growth of that, now getting back into full swing with
the Cloud Delivery Board. Then the desktop activities
being embraced by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Team,
who are working under a new delivery model.
I think that has probably one of the biggest changes
I have seen, which is the government's arrangements,
which we have put in place, in terms of delivery of this stuff .
I have left out one significant part of where we are going,
which is actually the citizen-facing bits and the enablement
and we are involved in doing. That the stuff we have seen,
in terms of the Government Digital Service, the rebranding
of that, the delivery through atomics more of the alpha site,
and now work on beta site, in terms of single domain,
a huge number of bits and pieces are coming through.
The pace of delivery, the energy, and the workload has
We are now, with 17 actions due for delivery in the
first 6 months, starting to see the first of those coming through,
in terms of the pipeline in September, for delivery, with
sub-strategies starting to finish their route through final drafting stages,
with the assets and services knowledge-base,
The Assets Services Registry, previously called,
starting to build in its beta stage with a fully populated site,
which we can then use to build those things are starting to appear.
Bryan Glick: Totally it’s an ambitious agenda. Interestingly,
you say it is deliberately forward-focused, in terms of getting
the actions done early. On that basis, a year or 18 months from
now, what do you hope to be able to say is different at that time?
Bill McCluggage l: I think, whenever you look at how we
are doing things, embedding a challenge function
so that the people, instead of just arbitrarily going
out and building something themselves, go to an
asset registry as part of a spend control . . . not even a
spend control process, but naturally part of behavior that says,
'Let us go out and compare and contrast our requirement
against what is already there so we do not spend extra
money when we do not have to.'
An undepending network service, which is connected,
that allows us to, quite rightly, be proud of the UK as a
Government Service Location, which allows local
and central government and other organizations
to utilize a new commercial model in a series of
frameworks; the traction of data center consolidation
really cutting in. More importantly, actually, the delivery
of online services being enabled with universal credits,
buy identity assurance, and those things, started to kick in.
Those are the places we need to be in the 12-month timeframe.
I could go on and talk about increased use of Open Source,
which is a sore point, in terms of trying getting to get that.
It is hard work.
When you say it is ambitious, and that is what
the Accounts Committee said, I am ex-Air Force,
and our motto in the Air Force was 'Per Ardua as Astra,'
which is 'by hardship to the stars'. Actually, if you do not
shoot for the stairs, you are not going to get into orbit,
so we are. We have set ourselves ambitious set of targets,
an ambitious set of actions, and we are working to accomplish
those, but it is only the first step. This is the beginning of the
end of phase 1, the early part, that we are now looking at.
Bryan Glick: A lot of people will be wishing you luck, both from
an IT perspective, and as taxpayers, as well. Bill, thank
you very much for coming out and talking to CW 500 tonight,
very much appreciated.
You have been hearing from Bill McCluggage, the Deputy Government CIO,
who has been talking to CW 500 Club tonight. That is all we have
got time for on this video. We will see you on another
video again very soon. Bye.