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Analysts label Government’s ‘most digital’ in G8 claim perplexing

Analysts label Government’s 'most digital' in G8 claim perplexing
January 9th, 2014
Author: Economic Voice Staff

Analysts from 451 Research comment on Francis Maude’s recent commitment to make the UK government the “most digital government” in the G8 by 2015 as he unveiled plans to put driving records online.

Dr Katy Ring, Research Director IT Services, 451 Research says:

There is still very little in the way of integrated delivery of IT systems in central government. It may be that we in the UK will be good at offering point solutions online (as with the DVLA example) but the challenge of having an integrated service capability spanning different departments still looks some way off.

Think of the challenge with banks, who run current accounts and your credit card via two completely separate systems and even different support portals even if they allegedly come from the same bank. In a similar way citizens still struggle to get efficient services if that requires more than one government agency’s IT system. Given the issues around the delivery of the new Universal Credit system and you’ll see that this “most digital” label is perplexing.”

Providing online access to services is really the only way forward for Western governments with good digital infrastructure. Digital transactions are clearly lower cost than phone or paper-based transactions and so it is good that there is government commitment to this and an ambition to lead.”

However, any Government relying on digital service delivery should be confident that the infrastructure is universally in place and accessible to all. As things currently stand, large parts of Wales, Scotland and the North West of England would dispute this [See http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/broadband ].”

William Fellow, Research Vice President, 451 Research comments:

Keyboard-1 (c) The Economic VoiceThe Government’s commitment to overhaul the way public sector IT is procured and how it is accessed by citizens remains is a key driver behind the Government’s claim to be the most digital in the G8 by next year. However, its original commitment in March 2011 calls for half of the government’s new ICT spending to be in cloud services by 2015 and that clearly isn’t going to happen. Additionally, there remains a lack of political will to drive this forward in some quarters as well.

The early results of projects such as G-Cloud are falling short of the mark so far, with the £78 million in savings to-date falling far from what was expected at this point.

However, that should take away the importance of what’s being tried here. Institutional, political and process change takes time, especially in public agencies.”

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