UK Review of Governmental IT

The House of Commons has reviewed the government of the UK’s actions with respect to implementing IT and found numerous faults and made recommendations for improvement.

On disasters:
“13. On the basis of the evidence received during our inquiry, we concluded that there are six underlying causes of failure in government IT:

  • Inadequate information, resulting in the Government being unable to manage its IT needs successfully (Chapter 3);
  • An over-reliance on a small number of large suppliers and the virtual exclusion of small and medium sized (SME) IT contractors, which tend to be less risk adverse and more innovative (Chapter 4);
  • A failure to integrate IT into the wider policy and business change programmes (Chapter 5);
  • A tendency to commission large, complex projects which struggle to adapt to changing circumstances (Chapter 6);
  • Over-specifying security requirements (Chapter 7), and
  • The lack of sufficient leadership and skills to manage IT within the Civil Service, and in particular the absence of an “intelligent customer” function in Departments (Chapter 8).”
  • On costs:
    “IT procurement has too often resulted in late, over budget IT systems that are not fit for purpose. Given the cuts that they are having to make in response to the fiscal deficit it is ridiculous that some departments spend an average of £3,500 on a desktop PC. This Government, like many before it, has an ambitious programme aimed at reforming how it uses IT. This Report sets out what the Government must address if these reforms are to succeed where previous attempts have failed.”

    A recurring them in the report is that requisitions are over-specified and so large that only a few large suppliers can compete for contracts, essentially creating a cartel for governmental IT.

    The government is aware of FLOSS:
    “10. When asked why these latest reforms would prove more successful than those of previous administrations, the Cabinet Office responded that they would address these underlying barriers to change by:

    • creating a level playing field for open source software;…”

    see Government and IT — “a recipe for rip-offs”: time for a new approach

    About Robert Pogson

    I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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