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UK Government: Saving Money & Getting Value?

Gartner blogger, Andrea Di Maio, provides a very comprehensive overview to the recent refocusing of the UK Government’s IT strategy. In his entry, UK IT Strategy Sets the Pace for All European Governments, But Can They Deliver?, he summarises the headline announcements for making savings:

reusing more;
breaking down large projects into smaller chunks;
opening procurement to smaller vendors; and,
pushing on open source adoption.

In addition to the above, he reports that there is a focus on centralisation with the G-Cloud strategy led by a CIO Delivery Board and new applications built by third parties on the Directgov framework.

Karl Flinders from Computer Weekly in his article, Will government IT be better without an oligopoly?, focuses upon the opening up of opportunities to smaller companies. He argues that procurement has in the past been rather lazy and tended to focus on the larger vendors, which have presided over some cataclysmic project failures. The Coalition are, apparently, keen to open up IT procurement to smaller companies although there is scepticism about whether this is genuine and if this will create a management headache.

Across many sources that Flinders quotes there is little concensus as to whether using smaller suppliers is desirable or, indeed, possible. Smaller companies seem to think this is a good idea and larger ones quibble about ability to deliver and economies of scale. No surprises there, then.

To open up the market to a bit of real competition seems to make a great deal of sense but Flinders cautions:

But whether the opening up of contracts to more suppliers improves government IT and makes financial sense is less certain.

A cynic may point out that after haemorrhaging money from a number of projects conducted by large providers, it can’t get much worse. Surely?

Domain has worked with government departments and the horrors predicted by purveyors of doom are certainly not our experience. Perhaps we are just not big enough to waste money on such a scale?

Gartner’s Di Maio concludes by noting that the next phase is about increasing harmonisation and centralisation in:

how infrastructure is procured and utilized;
how projects are architected;
how IT services are sourced; and,
how technical standards are selected and enforced.

I think it is crucial that a proper strategy is implemented with a focus on delivering value to the taxpayer and rewarding those who have successfully delivered in government and not rewarding others for their failure(s). Smaller companies like Domain are agile enough to offer good value for money and, frankly, failure for them could mean financial ruin so there is incentive in bucket-loads.

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