by Leo King

Tories claim government IT strategy lacks ambition

Nov 30, 2009
GovernmentIT Leadership

The government was last night accused of being “thoroughly complacent”, over the detail in leaked plans to slash billions of pounds from IT expenditure.

In a growing row, the Conservatives accused the government of lacking ambition in the strategy, it was reported. The Whitehall plans outline the use of cloud computing, web 2.0 and service oriented architecture as the main methods for improving efficiency.

The government is aiming to save £3.2 billion annually from 2013 to 2014 by making the changes, a saving of 20 per cent on the current £16 billion expenditure, the Financial Times reported Treasury insiders as saying. But the opposition said in the paper that the figure was wrong, insisting the plans were to save £3.2 billion over a ten year period instead.

The Labour plans gave little information on tackling the numerous problems present on a number of its largest IT projects, aside from promises to strengthen Gateway reviews, increase supplier competition, and measure against better key performance indicators.

“This document is thoroughly complacent. Where is the ambition? Where is the recognition of the fiscal crisis gripping Britain?” Francis Maude, shadow Cabinet Office minister, was reported as saying in the paper.

The Conservativessaid that if they won next year’s general election instead they would immediately break up the largest schemes, dividing them between a range of suppliers, in order to avoid any reliance on a particular supplier or small group of suppliers, it was reported. The party has consistently made statements on changing the biometric data and ID cards programme, as well as the NHS National Programme for IT.

The Torieshave launched a new website,, in which they state that the government has failed in its attempts to “get to grips with the systemic failures in public sector IT procurement over the past decade”. The website invites comment from the public, claiming that “crowdsourcing” and “collaborative design” will result in better policies.

Meanwhile, the leaked Labour strategy gives much attention to cloud computing, where public sector organisations would host their IT on a central government G-cloud platform.

Alongside this, the government said it would standardise desktops and their software, consolidate datacentres, and launch a single telecoms infrastructure called the Public Sector Network. It also promised to make more use of open source systems and create an online portal where applications can be accessed for reuse by different departments.