by Steve Shine

Labour government has succeeded in lower gov IT costs

Mar 15, 2010
IT Strategy

As we warm up to a general election,  I want to dwell on the positive moves we have seen from the current government in trying to achieving the cost savings in public sector IT spend.

Last year the UK Government CIO, John Suffolk pushed out a world leading (in my opinion) policy revision on Open Standards, Open Source and Reuse in UK Government IT.  Rather than issue the policy then let it gather dust on the shelf, the Policy was refreshed a couple of weeks ago with some amendments to close the loop holes that current buyers and suppliers were using to conduct “business as usual”. I have been a regular supporter of the Policy but critical of the fact that it is not enforced.

Last week I attended an Intellect (Representing the UK Technology Industry) meeting where Rachel Gentry (Deputy Director, ICT Strategy & Policy at Cabinet Office) was briefing a group of around 30 mainly UK focused IT suppliers on the amendments to the Policy.  Now Ms Gentry seems like she could be an agent for change. She is no life time civil servant having spent most of her career in the private sector as a senior buyer for companies renowned for the procurement expertise such as Argo and DSG. Until recently she was also Deputy Director of ICT Commercial Delivery and the Office of Government Commerce, the body that oversees procurement in central government, so she also knows how the wheels of Government procurement turn.

In Gentry’s brief and refreshingly frank presentation and the Q&A that followed, it is clear that the Cabinet office is serious about change but also realistic about how hard it is to break the practices and tightly bound relationships that exist. Call me over-optimistic if you will, but I think we can do it.