Public Sector Technology

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I n a couple of weeks' time on No- vember 25, George Osborne will stand up in the House of Commons to announce the results of the latest spending review. The Chancellor's ambition to find an extra £20 billion of savings in public spending will set the scene for the public sector over the next five years. It will de - termine the direction of Whitehall de- partments, as well as cash-strapped local authorities and police forces that are stepping up plans to merge neighbouring ICT departments. An analysis of ICT opportunities by public sector consultants Kable predicts the public sector will see around £17.8 bil - lion spent on ICT in 2015-16. This will be marked by policies that include the break- ing down of large, single, outsourced ar- rangements, encouraging smaller firms to bid for public sector business and notably the transformation of key transactional systems from people intensive to digitally served delivery. Open data, mobility and cloud comput - ing also have the potential to transform public sector service delivery. In the last year, according to the Cabinet Office, adopting digital and technology transformation helped save £1.7 billion, with more than £600 million being con - tributed by the Government Digital Ser- vice (GDS), whose goal is to make public services "digital by default". However, while there is undoubtedly an opportunity to seize the moment in delivering digital services, the National Audit Office will still want to see value for money achieved. "Under the Coalition, GDS ushered in radical change to IT strategy," says Jessi - ca Figueras, chief analyst at Kable. "Most notably, GDS succeeded in establishing strong central control over departments, setting and enforcing standards for how they should buy and build technology, as well as starting to build shared compo - nents such as GOV.UK Verify. "But with such diversity of purpose between the hundreds of organisa- tions making up central government, it's not always easy to find the one size that fits all. The GDS initiatives tending to succeed, such as the Digi - tal Marketplace, provide departments and suppliers with a tangible benefit in faster procurement, increased com- petition and more opportunities. GDS has also helped departments to recruit new digital talent, and pro- vided much-needed training and coaching. "But in other areas, such as the spend controls and mandated approaches to outsourcing and digital projects, GDS has offered more stick than carrot, which has sometimes antagonised or confused stakeholders. GDS itself has been on a voyage of discovery, and it's probably fair to say that government is becoming more pragmatic in what it can and can't achieve with digital transformation." GDS's digital influence has certainly pervaded Whitehall, notably with the De - partment for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) building up their digital expertise. For its part, HMRC must achieve an untroubled exit from its £10-billion out - sourced Aspire IT contract by June 2017, which will see a prime supplier contract replaced by deals of shorter duration and lower value, including with small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The govern - ment has pledged that by 2020, for every £3 it spends, £1 will be spent with SMEs. Indeed, Steve Thorn, public sector senior vice president for CGI, believes col - laborative dialogue between government, commercial suppliers and SMEs will play a key role in public sector transformation. According to a recent Future of Digital Government report by EMC, an average of 33 days a year are lost to working with outdated government services, with 65 per cent of consumers believing govern - ment digital services lag behind the pri- vate sector. James Norman, EMC's public sector chief information officer, says: "In a world where the likes of Uber and Airbnb are completely redefining standards of cus - tomer service, responsiveness and con- venience, government needs to think of technology as not simply a disruptive in- fluence or delivery channel, but instead as absolutely fundamental to its work. "The delivery of smarter and more con- venient online services in areas such as healthcare, local government and tax needs to be a priority." Digital transformation is also a priority in local government where argu- ably austerity has hit hardest. "The next wave of local government transformation must be radical to achieve, in some cases, budget reductions in the region of 40 per cent," says Camden Coun - cil chief information officer John Jackson. "It means integrating services across the sector to share overheads, streamline multi-agency working and drive innova - tion as we are in Camden through our new shared digital service. It means mashing up information from multiple sources to drive new insights into solving complex problems relating to health and society, where data from one government agency is simply not enough to enable earlier in - tervention and help at lower cost to those who need it most." In healthcare, the Department of Health and NHS England are working on stand- ards, guidance and prototypes to spur the development of digital services on NHS.UK. Meanwhile, in higher education, uni- versities are investing significantly to enhance their service and promotion online, while spending on lecture capture and audio-video infrastructure for virtual learning environments and massive open online courses. They are also expanding storage capacity, upgrading research cost - ing tools, and buying grant management and research management systems. It's time to deliver on digital potential Chancellor George Osborne's spending squeeze opens the door to wider use of digital technologies across the public sector, but hurdles to success remain OVERVIEW DAVID BICKNELL Distributed in STEPHEN ARMSTRONG Contributor to The Sunday Times, Monocle, Wallpaper* and GQ, he is also an occasional broadcaster on BBC Radio. DAVID BENADY Freelance journalist, specialising in technology, marketing, advertising and media, he writes for national newspapers and business publications. DAVID BICKNELL Editor of Government Computing, he specialises in public services information management and information technology. JOHN LAMB Former editor of titles including Computer Weekly and Information Week, he publishes Ability magazine on technology for disabled people. EMMA WOOLLACOTT Specialist technolo- gy writer, she covers legal and regulatory issues, contributing to Forbes and the New Statesman. RACONTEUR CONTRIBUTORS Publishing Manager Nathan Wilson Digital and Social Manager Rebecca McCormick Head of Production Natalia Rosek Design Vjay Lad Grant Chapman Kellie Jerrard Samuele Motta Production Editor Benjamin Chiou Managing Editor Peter Archer BUSINESS CULTURE FINANCE HEALTHCARE LIFESTYLE SUSTAINABILITY TECHNOLOGY INFOGRAPHICS Although this publication is funded through advertising and sponsorship, all editorial is without bias and sponsored features are clearly labelled. For an upcoming schedule, partnership inquiries or feedback, please call +44 (0)20 3428 5230 or e-mail info@raconteur.net Raconteur is a leading publisher of special-interest content and research. Its publications and articles cover a wide range of topics, including business, finance, sustainability, healthcare, lifestyle and technology. Raconteur special reports are published exclusively in The Times and The Sunday Times as well as online at raconteur.net The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the Proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior consent of the Publisher. © Raconteur Media raconteur.net/public-sector-technology-2015 The delivery of smarter and more convenient online services in areas such as healthcare, local government and tax needs to be a priority PUBLIC SECTOR TECHNOLOGY | 03 RACONTEUR | 10 / 11 / 2015 raconteur.net

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