UK.gov is once again fiddling with the idea that a single government web domain will save cash and improve its shoddy IT strategy record. The Cabinet Office set out plans for the government's IT strategy this morning, in which it claimed it would reduce costs, offer better support to smaller tech firms and commit to "mandatory …
"At the time Fox said that the team running the Directgov website should be a "citizens' champion with sharp teeth" and added that government portals should be simplified to help cut costs."
Have a look at the flagship EasyCouncil and try and make sense of 'simplified' - it seems to mean 'so simple there's bugger al there'
Facebook mandatory for Directgov transactions
"Likewise, this government echoed the commitment of the previous one on bringing social media into the public announcement fold by using it "as a mainstream channel"."
You can just see where this will end up can't you, Facebook and Twitter both already get huge amounts of free advertising and exposure paid for by the tax payer on the BBC. Next you'll need to have a Twatbook page just to pay your road tax or access council services.
"Move away from big bang solutions delivered by the same large suppliers.."
Wot? No more big projects for HP/Capita/Accenture? I doubt it...
I wish the public sector would stop inserting that pointless C into IT.
Don't worry, it'll probably get cut.
that they would stop taking the p out of the voters
Should hold say a ten million pound x-gov prize for the best open source solution for managing their online presence.
I bet we would have some cracking entries from the talent that's out there.
I feel I should comment...
...but do you know what, 20 years in public sector IT fighting against overmanaged projects that are failures before they start I'm having trouble being arsed.
But it is a slow afternoon...
A couple of suggestions the fragrant Martha missed:
- Managed services always add a layer of cost. The people running them are always going to make a profit doing a job that you could be doing yourself. BIte the bullet pay the wages directly and get control.
- Treat your suppliers as suppliers, they are not and will never be partners. They need to make a buck - from you.
- Shared risk is a myth. No commercial company will risk more than is in their contingency pot.
- Make sure you have bigger and better governance in place than your suppliers. Tell them you will only accept a maximum 20% management overhead on development costs. They are going to shaft you.
- Get back to T&M projects and make sure you can account for every hour billed.
- Stop buying expensive COTS because you are mortally terrified of even the word development. Guess what, most of the 'configuration' is development. And when configuration goes wrong it is much harder to put right.
- Have a closer look at your hosting requirements. Not everything you do is restricted, hardly anything gets above Confidential. Do you need the system that reports a pothole in the road in dual-centred a super hardened PCI compliant bunker?
- Stop drawing paralells with what you do and Social Media. Or even thinking Social Media plays a part in what you do, Paying my road tax should be as dull as ditchwater. I don't want engagement, I want to fill in the form and pay.
Agreed, but in all fairness...
...paying my road tax is one of the things that DOES just work, is dull as ditchwater, and whilst I guess nobody's exactly HAPPY forking over cash to the government, it's as painless as I think it can get.
It's the culture
"I will give up control of my empire when you prise it from my cold dead fingers"
And the shit rolls downhill management model used by the public sector means that there's an ever increasing number of empires.
The biggest risk to any large system project (with or without shiny things attached) is still user resistance.
Never Happen, because of the employees....
Most of these "savings" would come from job losses, not sales-guys getting less for their mega-bucks swanky SAN array they've just sold you (to store PDFs permanently in the corner and have nice flashing lights).
Perfect example is North Wales NHS, where they have recently combined all the trusts along the coast into a single, larger trust (and one domain). The result? 6-8 IT Managers all fighting for ego-space and more importantly, a job :( (Because of course combining the job of all those people only takes 2 people, right?)
On the other side will be job protection, say you are SAN administrator (keeping the theme going ;) ) - Are you going to bring in a solution that makes you redundant? Thought not.
You can do an amazing job in the public sector, create a hyper-efficient empire and then an outside decision makes you have to do it all again.
"We will end the oligopoly of big business supplying government IT"
I'll make a more positive comment when I've stopped laughing at this BS.
they actually may not fuck this up
Watch @alphagov on Twitter.
They could start by turning off the lights! I can see into the DirectGov offices from my flat and they leave entire floors lit 24/7, the wasteful sods.
OK I'm feeling a bit more generous.
And I've looked at the list of Maude's.
He's certainly got a couple of the big fails on the list
" procurement timescales are far too long and costly, squeezing out all but the biggest, usually multinational, suppliers"
" too little attention has been given at senior level to the implementation of big ICT projects and programmes, either by senior officials or by ministers. Similarly, senior responsible owners (SROs) have rarely been allowed to stay in post long enough."
and *maybe* some ideas to fix them
# greatly streamline procurement and specify outcomes rather than inputs
Tell them what's wanted, every little bit of information they expect to collect.
# create a presumption against projects having a lifetime value of more than £100 million
I think that would call BS to the claims of ID card savings.
# impose compulsory open standards, starting with interoperability and security.
# expect SROs to stay in post until an appropriate break in the life of a project/programme; and
Stopping the game of project pass-the-parcel so helpful in avoiding civil service blame. Managers *might* not get an annual bonus
No word on data centre co location. (FFS 190+ data centres for a country the size of some US *states*. I'm not *even* suggesting consolidation. Just sharing power, data and air con and security. All areas where bigger is *always* better. Cables from *multiple* sub stations. Fat FO backbone straight into the nearest exchanges).
The more I know of the UK Home Civil Service the more it resembles NASA *before* it unified its accounts systems across 11 sites under SAP (and discovered $546 *billion* in funds they could not account for, according to CFO magazine).
Some bits are not bad and do deliver benefits above their cost like JPL
Some bits work better when they are split up (like the Home Office -> Ministry of Justice and Home Office)
Some bits should be shut down and most of the staff just let go. MOD Procurement springs to mind. If it's not the MSFC of the Civil service I don't know what is.
Neither is anywhere *near* as unified as you would expect what are basically different departments of the *same* government to be.
But remember even *relatively* small systems are reputed to be s**t.
The prison management system (NOMIS). Pretty much ticks *all* the fail points on Maude's list. I've also heard claims of 30 minute login times for the Borders Agency Oracle based "Adelphi" system (No that that zero after the 3 is not a typo).
*Cautious* thumbs up but we'll see if they can make a difference.