back to article UK gov needs better data skills to cut spending

The Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), set up to lead efforts to cut government spending by £6bn in 2010-11, should set up management information systems to measure progress accurately and objectively, the public accounts committee has said. The committee's report on the ERG's role in improving value for money …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a hint

    Try to arrange things so that you don't have more than twice as many civil servants managing the outsourcing contract than you used to have actually delivering the IT function to the government department. It woudl also help if you could give those civil servants the smarts to write a comprehensive, complete and bulletproof contract and the smarts to enforce it - that way you might avoid being gang-raped by the usual suspects. ( I don't choose the metaphor lightly, an exec from EDS was fond of saying, "We woo them with the contract, we rape them with the contract variations". Happy days).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might be a nice start....

    The government could save a fortune by not paying expensive US "supercops" to come over here to combat a problem that the government have invented.

  3. Dave 15

    Some simple options

    I have bid for government contracts and found the following...

    (a) It doesn't matter if your whole team have worked on this type of work before if your company hasn't then you can go hang

    (b) If your company hasn't been around 3 years then go hang

    (c) If your company is British go hang

    (d) If your company isn't several thousand strong go hang

    (e) If your company doesn't have a bunch of engineers in Bangalore being paid 2d a week but being charged at #1500 a day then you can go hang

    These rules go on until the point you get the answer - if you are not one of the 2 big consultancies then you stand no chance at all. Thus if you are one of those you can charge what the hell you like - normally #1500 a person a day. And you can quote the duration you like (real one x3)

    If this was fixed then government spending on IT would plummet massively, and they could spend that much reduced budget supporting small British companies full of hard working British workers, these companies could expand and employ more - cutting the unemployment problems.

  4. Turtle_Fan

    Or you can try....

    ... importing a few greek number crunchers and the savings will be reported at twice the rate and half the time.

    There's bound be a few them going spare at the moment...

  5. Gerrit Hoekstra

    The Software Licensing Game - Let's stop this sillyness

    Reselling the same piece of software over and over again on a new deal with each govt. dept. is sub-optimal use of taxpayers' money. Vendors will never give this gravy train up, however. It leaves us with no option but to only use software that has a zero license charge.

    This is particularly relevant on desktop solutions, where huge numbers of non-transferable, per-seat licenses are procured, which are then allowed to attrophy when staff move around or the computer dies, and to then be allocated a new license on the new machine / job. The management effort that goes into looking after all the licenses is non-trivial. Not having to directly deal with licenses and procurement thereof will also kill off a couple hundred govt. jobs too, probably. Bonus savings!

  6. steeplejack

    Changes are v. expensive to implement.

    The government's cuts mean that all departments have to re-invent the way they work, in an attempt to survive on a smaller budget. While this distraction is going on, less work gets done, ie. productivity suffers badly. But to cap it all, the deep changes are being made without any planning or change-management processes. In other words, a state of dysfunction with broken systems and demoralised staff. Some skilled staff then leave, and can't be adequately replaced.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's start with the basics..

    Pre- New Labour, the government had actually a couple of clued up insiders that were (eventually) defining some structure, set standards and generally were imposing some sanity on the mess. You can say what you want about the CCTA, but they were actually heading in the right direction. Clued up people were the first to go under New Labour, because pork consulting projects and clued up insiders don't go together, both in IT and contract management.

    The next thing was to rig the NAO so that "creative accounting" and abysmal project management would go unnoticed until such time as it was time to deliver, at which point pure politics kept the pork flowing where there should have been penalties instead (referring back to the lack of contract negotiation and management skills again).

    In summary, what needs to happen is a return to good IT fundamentals. Structure that works across government, but with enough flexibility to allow local variations. When you set a doc standard like Open Documents it becomes pretty much irrelevant what OS of apps you use (why do you think Microsoft decided to game the ISO setup to the point of breaking it?).

    You end up with a migration strategy which in the end gives you the convergence and thus the savings you need, and as pure side effect it may actually run better too (and you become supplier independent, also a great way to improve negotiation position. That should save enough money to re-employ the clued up and the sane at a salary that will actually be attractive and lose the dead wood to the consultancies they have been sponsoring for so long.

    But hey, that is probably too revolutionary..

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