Dear Cabinet Office… most ICT spend is outside SW1

Today the Institute for Government (IfG) has published System Upgrade? examining the Government’s ICT strategy, which was published shortly after the IfG report System Error.

We were not very whelmed with either the IfG Report or the ICT strategy, but that’s not quite the point.

For those new to the government IT saga Tony Collins provides a useful critique of the IfG report beginning:

Inside the wrapper of generally positive words, [the report] suggests that major change is unlikely to happen, despite the best efforts of CIOs and the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

The rest of us are merely unsurprised.

In our response to the Cabinet Office consultation on open standards, we expressed concern that the policy did not apply across the public sector thus failing to consider the importance and consequences of the network effect.

FSFE indicate that Cabinet Office confirmed the limitations of the consultation to central government.

But, as the IfG report provides:

Suppliers and other ICT leaders pointed out, rightly, that the vast majority of ICT expenditure happens outside SW1 – with agencies, local government and organisations like primary care trusts and police forces still determining much of the citizen and workforce experience of ICT.

If the government is serious about open standards, then they seem to have overlooked that the elephant is in another room. If they’re not serious about open standards then they’re not serious about levelling the playing for open source softwareeither.

In case anyone were expecting anything else.

— Gerry Gavigan, Chair, 25 June 2012

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