Headlines: June 2nd, 1999

Information age government has taken a tentative step forward with the appointment of 30 senior Whitehall officials to champion the cause of information and communication technologies. They will act as change agents in carrying forward the corporate IT strategy.

Over the years IT systems have been developed to meet the needs of departments and agencies and there was no need for them to talk to each other. Joined up government has changed the rules and systems now need to converge and inter-connect. The central IT Unit in the Cabinet Office is developing a corporate IT strategy which will focus on the needs of citizens and will encourage a wider choice on how public services should be provided. It will be the job of the champions to change the thinking in departments and to encourage the corporate approach.

The corporate IT strategy will have a long agenda for change. It will include persuading more departments and agencies to use the Government Secure Intranet, benchmarking progress for electronic service delivery and working more closely with business.

In the age of cross boundary working and seamless delivery of services it is surprising that local government is to have a sole champion, whose name will be announced later. Another weakness is that there is only one Department of Health champion who will represent the whole of the health service.