Governing IT

On the same day, 7th December 2009, that Gordon Brown launched “Putting the frontline first: smarter government“, another report discretely appeared “Installing new drivers: How to improve government’s use of IT” from the Institute for Government, where the Prime minister was launching the first-named report. It is written by Michael Hallsworth, Gareth Nellis and Mike Brass.

My own academic research has had to delve into the history of government department and ministry responsibilities for IT, but this report looks at it from a slightly different angle, as to how the resulting collegiate control of government IT has resulted in a lack of overall control and the resulting high cost.

It’s probably no coincidence that this has appeared just before the probable launch of the Government IT Strategy which is available in an “early” draft courtesy of the Conservative Party on their make it better website.

It appears to argue, not for direct centralisation of government IT but to give the centre greater control and at least some power to prevent some of the abuse of gateway reviews evidenced by recent disasters.

One interesting fact (p.19) – the Cabinet Office is only directly responsible for only 0.068 per cent of total government spending on IT, which they’ve pulled in from John Suffolk’s blog!

One interesting statement (p.21) “Ministers frequently do not pay sufficient attention to the IT dimensions of policy announcements” – a bit like councillors!

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