Good Governance - Effective use of IT

Written evidence submitted by Bracknell Forest (IT 07)

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

The perception for this local authority, or more correctly this CIO, is that it could be a lot better. Examples are the fact that we were one of the lead authorities in adopting the use of our GCX connection as our N3 connection. That’s gone well but we have two different forms of dual authentication to now manage, smartcards for N3 and tokens for the EAS for Benefits

2. How effective are its governance arrangements?

Appears to be disjointed and inconsistent and not really aware that it’s happening at anything but the department level.

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

Not sure they have or at least it’s not clear to me. In fairness this may be because I’ve not dug deeply enough to find the outcome of any post implementation reviews that have been undertaken, but maybe these need to be more clearly signposted in this age of Transparency. I’d include local government in that. Maybe we should post our PIRs on our sites. Might help reduce some FoI requests

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

This comment goes for all level of government, local and central. As with all things some are better than others but in general the perception is that the service is designed and possibly even implemented and then technology is laid on top rather than being intrinsic in the service design.

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

Following on from the previous question it should be actively involved in service design/redesign or the implementation of new services. Maybe the first thing that should be thought about is the iPhone, iPad or Google app rather than the large back-office /engine room approach of the past. IT needs to be there at the table right from the start.

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

Government has a captive audience which includes almost every member of society in some shape or form. This needs to be exploited to a much greater extent to engage with as many as possible. Not sure we currently have the skills, although we attempt to be customer focussed and have greatly improved these skills in the recent past. We do understand bureaucracy, as we invent most of it so we must be able to use our skills to reduce it.

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

I’m afraid they don’t. The EU procurement regulations and even OGC frameworks do not allow for rapid purchasing / deployment and while government at all levels appear to be quite good at purchasing or putting contracts in place it’s not so good at ongoing supplier/contract management. OGC and other simply help you buy!

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

PSN is a good start in my opinion, owning the network is important and making it easy for all to use would be great. EAS is also a good start but needs to be a single solution across all government.

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

Again I think this will vary from those organisations that sees it as an enabler that may need investment to those that just see it as a cost centre that needs to take it fair share, or more, of the cuts

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

Not well. Seems to find a solution and then look for a problem. In my opinion this was exemplified by first implementation/iteration of Government Connect. It was only when the burning platform of Benefits was introduced that thing really began to move.

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

Too draconian and seen as a hindrance by most outside of the security industry. Initiatives like Mydex need to be watched careful as they turn the paradigm on its head making the individual responsible for their own data and its security. It will be very interesting to see how this develops.

12. How well does the UK compare to other countries with regard to government procurement and application of IT systems?
Not sure I can comment really, although I should be able to!!

January 2011