The focus of government IT has moved from procuring large scale systems to providing digital services. The first result of this major change in thinking was the axing of the CIO role. The CIO was head of the Government IT Profession and chair of the IT Profession Board that has representatives from government departments.
The Civil Service Reform Plan, published last year, set out the need for departments to move to a “digital civil service”. Departments were told they must soon be ‘digital by default’ in skills, style and how citizens use services to interact with government.
This re-think of IT leadership has been prompted by very-long procurement processes, lack of innovation and project failures. There is also a reluctance to change and adapt to new digital opportunities.
The new approach to governance of technology will promote a web-based, user-focused and participative culture. It will reflect what users need from government digital services.
Central departments have been asked to appoint an “active digital leader” who will work with their CIOs to drive digital transformation. Within departments, CIOs will continue to play a crucial role by ensuring that technology is adapted to user needs.
Phil Dawson, CEO of Skyscape, said: “The Cabinet Office’s bold statements certainly highlights that the Government is moving in the right direction when it comes to rethinking its previous approach to IT procurement. There remains a strong need to accelerate the change from old, large, fixed contracts managed by change control to delivering cost-effective, agile and efficient services that enable the Government to deliver the best possible service to UK citizens. The old ways are increasingly unacceptable.
“We applaud the progress made to date by strategies such as Digital by Default and the Government ICT Strategy, and frameworks such as G-Cloud. These have acted as catalysts for change and have been widely welcomed by IT professionals within the Government. The announcement from the Cabinet Office gives further prominence to Digital by Default, however, there remains strong support for the ICT Strategy much of which needs to be kept, hence these need to be melded into one.