Gov't needs to step up on IT, say public sector CIOs

The government needs to be 'more ambitious' about IT for public sector organisations to meet their goals, according to a poll of CIOs and IT directors
Written by Martin Gaston, Contributor

Almost three-quarters of public-sector IT executives want the government to be more ambitious with technology to help them meet goals for their organisations, according to a poll conducted by software maker SAP.

The research, published on Wednesday, also found that the IT chiefs want the next government to provide more strategic guidance on matching IT with the needs of their organisations. SAP spoke to 100 public-sector CIOs and IT directors for the poll.

The findings show that public sector needs "a vote of confidence from the top", said Janet Grossman, chair of Intellect's Public Sector Council, speaking to ZDNet UK at the survey launch event in London. They also demonstrate that "the root of inefficiency is bad policy", she added.

As part of its technology policy, the Conservative Party has pledged to shrink both the scale and scope of existing IT projects and open up the public sector to smaller, more localised projects. For its part, the Labour Party have proposed IT efficiency savings of £3.2bn over the next three years.

According to the report, half the executives believe that simplifying business processes and reducing the complexity between different public-sector networks would pay off quickly.

Grossman criticised the current government's procurement policies, saying 80 percent of contracts are monolithic deals repeatedly handed out to the same corporations. She also stressed the difficulties of new contractors attempting to get involved in the project cycle.

She also noted central government deparments are not encouraged to work together and urged the next government to take a chance by encouraging small cells of innovation among public-sector organisations.

The SAP poll suggested a gap of opinion between local and central government IT chiefs. It found that 30 percent more central government respondents believe IT is part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and 22 percent more think the government needs to be more ambitious with its IT policy.

One of the main problems facing the public sector is a lack of organisation between departments, according to Simon Godfrey, director of government relations and business development at SAP UK and Ireland. He described central government as being composed of "pockets of innovation that don't talk to each other".

When it came to the deployment of new technology, a third of those polled believed open-source software would make public sector IT more affordable. Only 19 percent believe the government should make cloud computing an immediate priority.

As for roadblocks to progress, 45 percent said that a lack of both human and technological resources is hindering their IT progress, with the public sector unprepared to meet the needs of increasingly tech-savvy citizens.

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