Government and IT - "a recipe for rip-offs": time for a new approach: Further Report, With the Government Response to the Committee's Twelfth Report of Session 2010-12 - Public Administration Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Government and IT - "A recipe for rip-offs": Further report

1.  We commend the Government for its generally constructive and proactive response to our report. (Paragraph 5)

Oligopoly of large suppliers and benchmarking

2.  The Cabinet Office's commitment to benchmarking through transparent data, as outlined in the Government's response, will help to quantify the gap between high and low cost products and services, but without the independent external advice which we recommended to identify reliable cost comparisons, the overall outcome will not change, and the Government will not achieve its cost reduction agenda. (Paragraph 11)

Legacy systems

3.  We are not convinced that the Government's approach to legacy systems properly addresses the underlying issues. At the very least, the Government should produce a long term risk-register identifying where and when investment will be needed to migrate and replace existing legacy systems. We expect to return to this issue in a later inquiry. (Paragraph 12)

Capability within Government

4.  We welcome and endorse the Government's acknowledgement of the need to grow its capacity in commercial skills of procuring and managing contracts, not just technical IT skills, in order to become an 'intelligent customer'. Specific training for the Senior Civil Service in technology policy will also be welcome, as will the growth of a network of 'champions' of agile development. However, it is not clear from the Government's response to our report that its actions will be adequate to cope with the scale of behavioural and process change required across the whole of Government, nor that the agile 'champions' will have sufficient seniority, expertise or support. (Paragraph 16)

Innovative service provision

5.  There are obvious areas in which the Government could go further and move faster to implement 'digital by default'. For example, officials should be rewarded for using social media and digital channels to disseminate information and provide services (especially where this reduces reliance on other, more expensive channels). User feedback submitted via the Directgov site provides the Government with a great deal of free data on the strengths and weaknesses of its service provision. The Government must make good use of it, alongside other information from social media produced outside Directgov itself, to understand better how its services are used and perceived and, in turn, to design better services. (Paragraph 19)

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Prepared 26 January 2012