Support builds behind IT plan

Support builds behind IT plan

Politicians and top civil servants add weight to public sector IT strategy

The Transformational Government (TG) implementation plan published by the Cabinet Office this week signals unprecedented political backing for IT-enabled public sector reforms.

The plan sets out details for delivering the three themes outlined in November’s TG strategy: customer-focused services, shared back-office systems and development of the public IT profession.

It also establishes a formal link between TG and the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Reviews (CSRs) that set departmental budgets, as well as the Capability Reviews being run by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.

TG has an exceptional level of support, says Cabinet Office minister Jim Murphy.

‘Without wishing to belittle what went before, this is an entirely different approach,’ he told Computing. ‘What is different now is the aim for personalised public services, and the efficiency drive,’ he said.

‘Political determination, CSR pressure and buy-in from permanent secretaries – that didn’t exist before and will help maintain momentum.’

The TG strategy is also now linked to the review of delivery channels by HM Revenue & Customs chief executive Sir David Varney, announced in the Budget.

One of the main practical notes in the implementation plan is the creation of two Customer Groups Directors (CGDs) – for older people and farmers – to help design services around citizen needs.

‘There are so many different points of contact between a pensioner and the state,’ said Murphy. ‘We will talk to them about how barriers can be broken down so there is a less complex relationship with the government.’

Ovum analyst Tola Sargeant says the link to the CSR is crucial.

‘The main things are the close linkage to funding and support for the strategy at the highest levels,’ she said.

‘Working closely with the Treasury is going to be essential to put incentives in place to encourage departments to buckle down.’

The implementation report also details ongoing work in all areas including plans for a public sector IT academy.