Spending cuts: 400 government IT projects under the microscope

Government deputy CIO reveals details of spending review
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Government deputy CIO reveals details of spending review

The future of more than 400 Whitehall IT projects is under review, according to the government's deputy CIO.

In the days after the coalition came to power, the government froze spending on all IT projects worth more than £1m and launched a review of whether those projects are still necessary.

Speaking at the 360°IT event in London today, the government's deputy CIO Bill McCluggage said that under the review 419 IT projects have been examined to see if they should be scrapped or scaled back, depending on whether or not they "serve a useful purpose", duplicate other IT systems being delivered elsewhere in central government or do not fit with the coalition government's priorities - with aim of reducing the £7.6bn that central government spends on IT each year.

According to the CIO, there have been a "significant number" that have been identified as duplicates or not fitting with the new government's agenda and McCluggage added that the government is in the process of reporting back to departments on which projects will be cut.

To date the most high-profile IT projects to become casualties of the change in government have been the ID cards project and the ContactPoint child protection database.

Government is in the middle of a cull of unnecessary IT projects

The coalition is in the middle of a cull of unnecessary IT projects
(Photo credit: exfordy via Flickr under the following Creative Commons licence)

McCluggage said that the proliferation of unnecessary IT projects has been fuelled by the fact that some central government departments tend to be run as silos - where there are few attempts to share IT infrastructure and services across wider government.

"When operations are in silos you tend to find a whole series of projects coming along at the same time where government only needs one - it's a bit like London buses," he said.

After ditching unnecessary IT projects, McCluggage said that the government's priority will be to "simplify, standardise and automate" the IT infrastructure and services used by government - with the G-Cloud project playing a key role in delivering this vision.

He reaffirmed the government's commitment to reducing the cost of IT projects undertaken by central government to below £100m - at which size he said IT projects typically became far easier to manage.

The reduction in the size of IT contracts will also help the government to realise its goal of allowing small and medium-sized suppliers to bid to deliver government IT projects, McCluggage said.

The CIO added that the Cabinet Office is commited to requiring new IT systems to be built around open standards - standards that allow them to interoperate with other IT systems - to further the government's ambition for open source software to be considered as a viable option when government procures new IT systems.

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