The UK Government has announced a new whole-of-government ICT strategy to provide “a standardised, flexible and efficient ICT infrastructure to enable delivery of these individual business objectives” and signaling ICT procurement reform over the next ten years.
Many of these initiatives for government ICT are already under consideration, in one guise or another at both Federal and State levels in Australia. Even allowing for the UK’s greater population, and its two tier system of government, the scale of the UK’s savings expectations compared to those identified for similar initiatives in Australia suggest expectations of savings in Australia could be raised a whole lot higher.
Australian governments have traditionally been UK-centric when considering new ICT directions. Of significantly greater import therefore than even the savings targets, are those initiatives not yet officially on the strategy agenda in Australia.
On the basis that we could reasonably suggest the title to this article could be ‘Coming to a Government Near You’, Intermedium presents you with a synopsis of the Strategy.
The UK Government’s new ICT strategy is expected to deliver savings of over £3.2 billion per year, simplifying and standardising ICT across the UK public sector.
The reforms and savings will not be implemented by key UK Government bodies such as the CIO Council or influential departments such as the Cabinet Office or HM Treasury. Instead, change will be effected from within individual public sector organisations, so as to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” dilemma.
The Strategy focuses on three deliverables: common infrastructure, common standards and common capabilities.
1. Common Infrastructure
- The Public Sector Network:
- A single, holistic telecommunications infrastructure that will deliver converged voice and data communications.
- Expected to deliver £500 million savings per year by 2014.
- The Government Cloud (G-Cloud):
- A government cloud infrastructure to public bodies to select and host ICT services from a secure, resilient and cost-effective shared environment.
- Offers single access point for ICT services, applications and assets.
- Data centre rationalization:
- Reduce the number of data centres in use from the current many hundreds to provisionally between 10 and 12 highly resilient, secure data centres.
- Reduce cooling and power consumption by up to 75% on current infrastructure.
- Reduce IT infrastructure costs by up to £300 million per year.
- Government Applications Store (G-AS)
- New gateway to enable sharing and reuse of online business applications with expected savings of over £500[JH1] million per year.
- Shared services
- Over 80% of civil servants are supported by a shared service solution. By 2020, the UK Government seeks to increase the provision of shared services via the Government Applications Store and Government Cloud.
- Desktop services:
- Common designs for desktop services across the public sector that will consolidate functions such as email, word processing, spreadsheets and internet browsing across government.
- A £100 saving in operating cost per public sector desktop per year would yield an immediate saving of £400 million per year if all public sector bodies adopted best practice.
2. Common Standards
- Architecture and standards
- Underpins all elements of the ICT Strategy and will assure security, interoperability and common data standards.
- Open Source, Open Standards, Reuse
- Traditionally, the public sector has relied on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software or bespoke developments from global providers.
- The Open Source, Open Standards, Reuse Strategy provides government’s approach to open source alternatives that meet public sector requirements. Government already commits to using only open standards for documentation.
- Greening Government ICT
- The Greening Government ICT Strategy set two targets to deliver mandatory SOGE (Sustainability on the Government Estate) targets: government ICT will be carbon neutral by 2012 and carbon neutral across its lifecycle by 2020.
- Information security and assurance
- Provide a trusted platform that will allow public sector bodies to match their information risk appetite with their information risk exposure.
3. Common Capabilities
- Professionalising IT-enabled change
- Increase capability of staff to reduce the amount the public sector spends on ICT consultants and contractors by some 50% by 2020.
- Reliable project delivery
- Supply management
- Approximately 65% of government ICT is outsourced to the private sector.
- The supply management strand builds on the work already undertaken by the CIO Council, OGC and private sector partners to deliver a step change in the efficiency and effectiveness of outsourced government ICT.
- International alignment and coordination
- Because the UK public sector is active across 145 countries worldwide, it is necessary to exploit technological advancements, to make communication and ease of service delivery as effective and efficient as possible.
Particularly noteworthy, given the adoption of the Federal Government of the Gershon Review’s recommendation to halve contractor numbers over a two year period (ie by August 2010) is the goal of reducing the amount spent on ICT consultants and contractors by 50% - by 2020.