1 The Strategic Direction for Government
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has the power
to transform public services and generate efficiencies.
While there have been some successful ICT projects in government,
there have been far too many expensive and regrettable failures
such as the NHS Programme for IT and the Rural Payments Agency's
Single Payment Scheme.
2. The Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group
(ERG) told us that the use of ICT should always have a clear business
purpose, such as delivery of a new policy or increased efficiency.
ERG's Chief Operating Officer said that there was "no such
thing as an IT project". ICT needed to be embedded in departments'
business, and government reform programmes needed to have ICT
at the core. Problems arose when projects with ICT lost sight
of the business purpose.
3. The Government published a new ICT strategy (the
Strategy) in March 2011. The Strategy builds on ERG initiatives
launched since the General Election. The Strategy contains 30
key actions for delivery by March 2013 that aim to: reduce waste
and project failure, and stimulate economic growth; create a common
ICT infrastructure; ensure ICT can deliver change in public services;
and strengthen governance.
4. The direction and principles of the Strategy are
good, but it is very ambitious.
Some of its aims, such as creating a common and secure ICT infrastructure,
are perhaps not ambitious technically, but in their need for more
collaborative behaviour. Success will depend on greater rates
of adoption of technology, and changes in the behaviour of Ministers
and civil servants who are involved in setting policy, which will
also stimulate behaviour change by suppliers.
5. ERG's Chief Operating Officer accepted that he
should be held to account for the success of the Strategy in two
years time. The Strategy,
however, lacks a baseline or any direct indicators that can be
used to evaluate the business outcomes that the Strategy enables.
The absence of such indicators will make it difficult to assess
whether the Strategy has delivered good value for money.
The witnesses told us that the real success of the Strategy would
be proven if it translates into better public services for citizens
and businesses. However, we consider that there is a need for
direct and quantifiable indicators against which to measure success.
3 Qq 70-71 Back
Qq 1, 95 Back
Qq 1, 101 Back
Cabinet Office, Government ICT Strategy, March 2011 Back
Qq 1, 13, 72 Back
Qq 1, 72, 75 and 100 Back
Qq 72, 76, 101 Back
Qq 13 and14 Back
Qq 12, 13 and 14 Back