In these hard times

A recent Computer Weekly (8 – 14 September 2009) contains a piece entitled “Hard Times for local government IT” written by Dr Simon Moores a Conservative district councillor and former advisor to Tony Blair! Strangely, it’s largely the content of an earlier posting from his blog. I tend to agree with his conclusions to the state we are likely to be in, but as one of advisors behind the e-government race, I think he should consider his role in bringing us to the current situation we’re in.

The rush to 100% targets with little process improvement brought us to a place where, in order to share services, we are trying to rationalise a vast range of systems without any standard architecture. He bemoans his own council’s situation for being on Groupwise and “fat” desktops – I moved my own towards “thin” some six years ago against some resistance and avoided Novell at the outset, however many neighbours still use Novell and still employ “fat” desktops, which can limit some of the “quick wins”.

Many authorities and government are forced down the Microsoft path by interfaces and joining up, open source won’t make things easier, if anything it will possibly make them harder.

IT is just the glue of service delivery, e-government is just a group of channels to deliver information and services. What is needed is standards for applications to enable them to be shared across boundaries.

Will a change in government bring that?

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2 Responses to In these hard times

  1. Simon Moores says:

    I guess my role and that of my colleagues in the early days involved trailblazing the concept of eGovernment and the broader use of technology, rather than supporting a particular choice of platform or vendor.

    If you think back ten years, choices were a little limited and Open Source was still very much in its infancy as an alernative.

    There’s much more I could write on the subject quite happily but suffice to say that things could always have been done better with the benefit of hindsight! However, the end result has been broadly succesful as I’m sure you may agree?

    • Simon
      Yes, things were different ten years ago but the introduction of e-government with a target of 100% we are now paying for. Undercontrolled overinvestment in diverse techologies from 2001 to 2006 has left us with a lot of toys that can’t join up without futher massive investment, which we are not going to get by any government. There is a need to join up central government in ways that radically depart from civil service practice and let them catch up with local government as it copes with a straightjacket it didn’t deserve!

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