Good Governance - Effective use of IT

Written evidence submitted by Bolton MBC (IT 04)

1. How well is technology policy co-ordinated across Government?

a. My perception is that this is (has been) rather unstructured and assumes a certain level of personal links/involvement in the process, ie, if you are in the know you get the information – otherwise you normally do not get any information.  In addition, coordination on this subject is normally delivered via "central government agencies/quangoes" etc.  which is not always appropriate.  Local Government is seen as second-class.

2. How effective are its governance arrangements?

a. My perception – very limited

3. Have past lessons from NAO and OGC reviews about unsuccessful IT programmes been learnt and applied?

a. Absolutely NOT.

4. How well is IT used in the design, delivery and improvement of public services?

a. Sporadically – dependent on a number of factors – eg., CEO support (if there is any); Funding; IT Director’s vision – if he/she has any!; Business "hunger" to change – not as simple as it sounds; etc etc.

5. What role should IT play in a 'post-bureaucratic age'?

a. Fundamental – without it, it will not deliver expected efficiencies, etc.

6. What skills does Government have and what are those it must develop in order to acquire IT capability?

a. The same old adage – we all need to be more "entrepreneurial"

7. How well do current procurement policies and practices work?

a. Depends how they are used / abused?  It can work – but the "interference" that Central Government projects on this area provide can misalign delivery – for example, if the best process is to follow OJEU – why confuse the issue with Catalyst-type framework when generally these DO NOT delivery the best price.

8. What infrastructure, data or other assets does government need to own, or to control directly, in order to make effective use of IT?

a. None.

9. How will public sector IT adapt to the new 'age of austerity'?

a. Who knows – with great difficulty I expect.

10. How well does Government take advantage of new technological developments and external expertise?

a. It does NOT.

11. How appropriate is the Government's existing approach to information security, information assurance and privacy?

a. It is NOT – a sledge-hammer to crack a nut comes to mind.

12. How well does the UK compare to other countries with regard to government procurement and application of IT systems?

a. From my personal experience and perception – it depends who you compare with – for example, Germany, Nordic Countries, France, Spain, Italy --- very badly; however, my perception in terms of Portugal, Greece, etc is good.

January 2011