Government lags months behind on tech reforms

Cameron fails to deliver on promises and manifesto pledges...
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Cameron fails to deliver on promises and manifesto pledges...

The government is months behind schedule on delivering IT reforms and publishing more data online.

Whitehall has failed to release guidance on how government departments should limit future IT contracts to no more than £100m in value, which was to have been published by August last year.

A separate pledge to establish an IT skunkworks to assess and develop faster and cheaper ways of using IT has not been realised, according to the number10.gov.uk website, despite an undertaking that it would be in place by November last year.

The coalition government has also failed to meet a promise made by David Cameron last year to publish all government contracts in full online by January 2011. A page reserved for the contract details on the number10.gov.uk website is still marked with a banner "Coming in the New Year".


The government is running months behind schedule on delivering tech reforms
Photo: Paul Kehrer via Flickr under the following Creative Commons Licence

TechMarketView research director Tola Sargeant said disruption was to be expected given the recent reshuffle in senior IT roles in government and that delay reflected the difficult reality of reforming the way government handles IT.

"How long these things take are perhaps a bit different to what they originally thought when they took office," she said.

"You have a new government CIO... I guess there's probably an element of delay while that transition takes place."

Keeping IT contracts below £100m in value was a Conservative election manifesto pledge, but Sargeant questioned whether it was even a desirable aspiration.

"It's an almost arbitrary figure, and who's to say it would be better to have that £100m limit rather than to look at each contract on a case-by-case basis," she said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government would provide an update online "within the next few days", setting out where it had got to on delivering its pledges to publish the £100m guidance and government contracts online.

He said he was unable to specify why the government had fallen behind schedule on honouring the pledges.

Despite its failure to publish contract details so far, the coalition government has increased the amount of public sector information published online since it came to power - releasing details of any item of public sector spending of more than £25,000, and setting up a page with links to public data on number10.gov.uk.

Information released through the open-data website data.gov.uk has led to the creation of apps designed to make information easier to understand and which permit data to be mashed up.

However, much of the data has been released as columns of figures, with little explanation of what they relate to, making it difficult for the layman to interpret.

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