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Government ICT Plan Becomes A Strategy Foursome

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The government has started to add flesh to the bones of its radical ICT Strategic Implementation Plan

Today the Cabinet Office released four follow-on documents to the ICT Strategic Implementation Plan, released earlier this month.

As part of the Government ICT Strategy, published in March 2011, the strategies – covering G-Cloud, End User Devices, ICT Capability, and Greening Government ICT – attempt to provide further clarity on the way government aims to approach technology in the future.

According to its Website, the Cabinet Office’s claim that it will provide the environment and approaches to radically transform the ICT landscape to create a more productive, flexible workforce that delivers digital public services in a much more cost effective way.

Government failed in value for money

In a statement, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said, “There have been significant failings and government has not always achieved the best value for money. Thus digital services and internal ICT have often hindered, not helped, the move to less costly, more productive working, and public services.”

“The four strategies,” he added, “link together to fully exploit the cost opportunities arising from technology developments, and to increase the capability and capacity of government to manage its own ICT and reduce reliance on expensive consultants and contractors.”

In its G-Cloud strategy, the government confirmed its commitment to “robustly adopt a public cloud first policy, though this will not be possible in every case and there will also be a requirement for a private G-Cloud.”

However, it did insist that solutions must balance the need to be open, accessible and usable with the growing cyber-security threat and the need to handle sensitive information with due care.

“The government must ensure that the cloud service still provides an acceptable level of security risk mitigation and allows government organisations to demonstrate they are meeting their legal and statutory obligations as far as information is concerned,” said Maude.

According to the statement, cloud computing will be enabled through the creation of a Government Application Store, displaying services that will be able to be procured, used, reviewed and reused across the public sector. “Simply buying cloud technology will not, in itself, save the most money. The greatest value will be gained by the government changing the way we buy and operate our ICT [information and communications technology]. Cloud computing is a way to access and use ICT services in a flexible and agile fashion, buying only the services needed when they are needed – we should do it once, do it well and then re-use, re-use, re-use.”

The “greenest government ever”

The strategy sets out the approach government will take in greening ICT across its lifecycle; from manufacture and design through to disposal, as well as the role ICT can play in the greening of government by enabling new and more efficient ways of working within organisations and transforming the way public services are delivered.

In its End-User Device strategy, the government aims to realise significant savings, while adding greater levels of flexibility and mobility to the public sector. According to the document, the public sector workforce will be able to work from any location on any suitable government or non-government end user device.

These strategies, according to Maude, cannot be implemented independently of a clear ICT Capability strategy that ensures that government employs those with the right skills and techniques to manage and run them effectively. “The strategy uses a professional framework to increase the capability of ICT professionals at all levels and reduce expenditure on external expertise,” he adds.

Through its ICT strategy, the government aims to realise significant savings, including savings of £460 million per year by 2014/15 from its move to cloud computing alone.