Headlines: June 29th, 2009

A new report says effective use of Information Technology has the potential to allow people to exercise real choice and control over schools, GPs, hospitals and other public services. The report from the Centre for Policy Studies says the Government will spend about 16.5m billion pounds on IT in this financial year but most of that money is wasted as only 30 per cent of projects succeed.

In “It’s ours: why we, not government, must own our data”, Liam Maxwell says improving Government use of IT is not just a question of effective project management but also of changing the assumptions behind it. He says the choice is between continuing the ‘Transformational Government’ agenda, which relies on the state holding personal data, or giving control over personal data to individual citizens.

As an example, his report cites medical records, where the alternative to the Government building up a central computer on which all medical records are stored is to use services such as HealthVault or Google Health to enable the citizens to store and analyse their own records. This would do away with the need for the NHS database and, Maxwell suggests, be virtually cost free. Such an approach would require public servants to use open data standards so information can be easily and safely transferred in the same way that customers can transfer an account from one bank to another.

He lists the benefits as savings of about 50 per cent on Government IT spending, the chance to reform services to the needs of parents, patients and other end users are uppermost, greater security and privacy over data and less intrusion by the State.