by Richard Steel

More engagement please

May 12, 20094 mins
IT Leadership

There are often complaints about late distribution of papers for meetings but, I’m sorry, Andrew – 1.00am for a meeting later in the morning takes the biscuit! 🙂

The meeting, at Admiralty Arch, was the second meeting of the Public Sector Infrastructure Team (PSIT) Executive Board. I managed not to know I was on this select group, and missed the first meeting!

The HMRC’s Andrew Bull chaired, and there were half a dozen colleagues from the NHS, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, OGC, Cabinet Office and myself.

In introducing the meeting, Andrew explained that the PSIT had some success over the last three years and had achieved good cross-government representation, with a network of participants who now knew one another and were able to work together but, over the last year, progress had been slow, with response to data losses and Public Sector Network plans taking most of its time.

We need to involve more of our teams and to clarify components, descriptions, definitions, ensuring clear boundaries to facilitate procurement of commodity services that would make-up the evolving PSI..He had circulated draft terms of reference, which were broadly agreed and, I was pleased to see included “engaging in the creation of the vision and development of strategy that PSIT is responsible for”.

We discussed this at some length, clarifying that, at the highest level, vision must be about the purpose and required outputs, and the criticality of role-based access though ID management and authentication to enable appropriate access to information held in purpose-built systems, obviating the need for file transfers.

I enlarged upon the Local Authority context – that although Councils are sovereign organisations, and not subject to Central Government decree on how they should organise and operate – through Socitm, we seek to assimilate Government policy and standards in areas such as security and information assurance, if we can substantiate that they represents best practice – but will do so only once.

At present, there are different protocols for each department that we deal with.

We also discussed “Turkeys and Christmas” – that our success in driving greater efficiency through common infrastructure and standards would mean reduced requirements for the technical architecture roles that presently exist – but noted that there already are not enough good people to go ’round, and our tasks include change management and people development – generating the capacity to exploit common infrastructure to support service transformation.

That led to consideration of what other representation and skills, such as HR, we should bring onto the Board.

Public Sector Teams to be overseen by the PSIT Executive Board cover:

• Infrastructure • Application • Process • Information • Channel • Strategy • Service Management • Integration • Information Assurance

The Board is responsible to the Architecture Review Board (ARB) (see “Enterprise Architecture for UK Government”) and the CTO Council. Terms of reference for the ARB and, generically, for each domain team were also circulated.

The Infrastructure Maturity Model used by the NHS was posited as a basis against which to measure our progress.

Today’s meeting covered a lot of ground, which I won’t attempt to report in detail. There were concerns around resourcing, however – both the adequacy of resourcing key commitments, such as Ocean/ PSN, and of the engagement of public sector colleagues in the work that needs to be done.

We discussed how to tackle these issues and regarding the latter, accepted direct responsibility for ensuring the engagement of both our peers and own teams in supporting PSI developments.

I think that our discussion of “G-Cloud” is also worth reporting. I am concerned that we need to develop the understanding and strategy for the development of what will essentially be a shared services infrastructure across the PSN, before colleagues, particularly in Local Government, commit themselves to generic Cloud services that will make it hard to comply with cross-Government architecture requirements.

A report has been produced for the CTO Council, but is to be further refined.

Congratulations to Andrew Stott, who has been appointed as the Government’s first Head of Digital Engagement. I was told that his job as Deputy CIO was advertised yesterday, and also that a Government CTO position is being advertised, but couldn’t find them anywhere in the brief time I was prepared to spend searching.

In case you missed it, up to 800 frontline practitioners will start to use ContactPoint from next week.