back to article Conservatives promise 'lights on, lights off' IT policy

Government systems spend is about to be seriously slashed, with future emphasis being on small, open source, user-friendly projects. That was the message from key speakers at the Conservative Technology Forum on Monday, with a warning to consultancies and major systems developers grown fat on over-complex and excessive IT …

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This won't work.

What we'll end up with is hundreds of disparate systems, hosting the same data, in incompatible formats, with changes being impossible to replicate across the systems.

Spend less, and you get nothing.

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As in so many things . . .

the devil is in the detail. Although I broadly welcome a de-centralised approach I do wonder how such pesky topics as data integrity, backups and access control will be implemented and managed.

But it is about time that the government approach to IT of huge, monolithic projects was given a good slap and sent on its way. I know people who have worked on Government projects and a couple that have walked away in disbelief (no names, no pack drill).

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WTF?

Ok, who's playing silly buggers?

This sounds positively sensible.

From a politician.

And I haven't been drinking.

??

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At first glance it sounds ok...

I actually found myself happy about the fact that this seemed a sensible approach. However, when it got to the 'lights on lights off' bit my interpretation is:

We'll honour contracts (presumably because cancelling them would cost pretty much the same anyway) and so spend the money allocated for them

We'll shut down systems and build more for no really good reason other than:

a) the public thinks IT spending is silly

b) the public thinks that all government IT projects are bad and doomed to fail

I have to agree with AC 11:39. This is going to end up with a clutter of small systems that aren't much use to anybody. Also, if people are allowed to fill in their own details can you imagine what would happen in terms of identity theft? As soon as the government says "you're going to have to fill out your details on systems X, Y and Z" you know how many passwords Joe Public is going to use.

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Stop

Ah, the eternal IT flip-flop bandwagon rolls on.

We've just been through a period where big, centralised systems with big, centralised databases are "in". It now looks like we're entering a period where small, distributed systems with tightly scoped local datasets are "in".

Exit "big iron" boys stage left, muttering "we'll be back".

Nothing to see here. Move on.

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Linux

@ AC 11:39

The solution to that is to insist for Open Standards, and for government departments to be given the full Source Code and modification rights over any software they use.

Oh, hang on .....

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Remember what happened with GP systems

In the good old days of Maggie T and her successors the Tory govt presided over the chaotic adoption of local surgery IT systems. There were no common standards and little compatibility giving us the mess that is now NHS IT. Cost a bundle, there were local benefits but a whole bundle of problems. Not to worry, loads of Tory lobbyists and backers made a heap of money.

I for one welcome the election of our 'Let's Look After Our Mates' - Oriented Future Overlords

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Unhappy

Cloudy forecast

"He spoke favourably of the Amazon approach, in which a service provider set up a structure, and allowed individuals to populate that structure directly: he liked the flexibility of the private sector applied to the public one

Hmm, I don't look forward to an inbox filled with 'suggestions' from HM.Gov

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Paris Hilton

Common sense at last

"...which he characterised as "Soviet-style" and "Stalinist"... He argued for reversing the present practice of building up larger and larger silos of central aggregated information..."

Thank goodness somebody has seen sense at last and will create IT systems on the basis of what works and without huge databases of information about individuals, their browsing habits, indexed details of all their email etc. After all, you don't get successful Internet based companies like Google doing things like that do you? Oh...

Paris - 'cos she knows that *sometimes* one big one *IS* better than lots of little one.

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Open Source?

What has open source got to do with it?

If the Tories are thinking open source programmers will do IT work for government projects for free then they're deluded.

If they're talking about hosting using open source software abd components then that's the case already with many projects.

Who cares if data is stored using proprietary software like Oracle or SQL Server? the data can with extracted and migrated. It is file formats they need to make open source, to do so they need to banish PDF and Microsoft Office formats.

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Grenade

"Not to worry, loads of Tory lobbyists and backers made a heap of money."

PROOF!!

I demand Proof of that! Scally Wag!

This noble venture is a good thing.

More of the same: Up the Blues, Down the Reds!

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Re: ...what happened with GP systems

Sounds great. No single point of failure for the security of the whole system. No data gets quietly deleted from the system because it conflicted with another source and "the system had to pick one". The patient doesn't wake up one morning and discover that thousands of bored civil servants have access to the data "just in case".

Yes, it would be nice if they had all used the same data formats and protocols. (Oh look, if you read the article, that's one of the suggestions now being made.) But we need to move away from the "massive central database approach" to government IT. The only reason it isn't a threat to civil liberties is that it is unworkably complex and so it will simply drain cash from the system and never actually see light of day.

As for the NHS IT program itself, I assume the government has decided to subsidize the IT companies involved, for whatever reason, but had to find a way of doing it that didn't alert the EU regulators. As we've recently seen, they tried the same thing with the banks last year but weren't subtle enough about it and are now having to reverse the policy.

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Welcome

When the Tories get elected...

... will the last person in Britain please turn off the lights?

(Sorry, couldn't resist the lure of historical headlines. I for one welcome our will-do-anything-for-a-vote Dave-shaped overload, er, overlord.)

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Grenade

@AC 11:39

What we've got now is hundreds of disparate systems, hosting the same data, in incompatible formats, with changes being impossible to replicate across the systems."

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Grenade

@AC 00:51

Exactly.

Spend Less, Get Nothing.

You can either sort it out, or paper over the cracks with even more systems.

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Ivor Kintold-Uso

When the Tories get elected... #

By Graham Bartlett Posted Wednesday 4th November 2009 17:14 GMT

... will the last person in Britain please turn off the lights?

By the time the Tories get elected, we'll all be lucky if there are any lights left to turn off. There certainly won't be enough electricity to actually run them, thanks to the technologically illiterate, mendacious, hypocritical, corrupt & criminally incompetent bunch of Stalinist troughers we've had to endure since the Bliar blitz on Britain began.

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Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let A Hundred Schools Of Thought Contend.

Tories in Mao Suits, who knew? Good luck with that.

I can't say how it is Ye Olde And Dampe Mother Country. On this side of the Atlantic my observation is that private companies can enforce the non-disclosure agreements their people sign; while Government entities have real watchdogs.

In other words, if it weren't in the interests of all the stakeholders in a private company to bulldoze over the giant stinking maggot-infested corpses of many of their "strategic projects" I rather doubt the public versus private record would look much different. It's just another tumescent adolescent fantasy of the savage market boys; who read the Clifts Notes on "Wealth of Nations" and got it ass-backwards and upside down.

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