Government’s G-Cloud programme director says chief information officers must change the way they procure ICT
Government G-Cloud programme director Chris Chant has warned civil servants and tech vendors that times are changing and so must they, reports The Register.
Chant, a career Whitehall civil servant, has warned his fellow chief information officers (CIOs) they are “hiding behind the comfort blanket” and must change how they buy IT.
“That blanket is on fire,” said Chant in a blog on the government’s G-Cloud website.
According to Chant, CIOs like himself have been guilty for years of taking the easy path by signing expensive contracts with big IT suppliers, of failing to innovate and thereby causing end users to suffer.
“We have done the unacceptable and thought we were doing a great job,” he said.
Chant is now a member of the Cabinet Office that is driving G-Cloud and the UK government’s digital change agenda along with newly appointed deputy government CIO Liam Maxwell and their ministerial chief MP Francis Maude.
According to Chant “unacceptable IT is pervasive”.
Chant said that big tech suppliers should see the CIO’s smoking blankets and be warned that government IT has “changed”, and is now taking a more “customer approach”.
“They can no longer rely on delivering poor service for big money and get away with it,” he said.
Commenting on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said: “SMEs should embrace the opportunity they now have and bring their capabilities – speed, flexibility and low prices – to the government market. For the first time, government is ready.”
Chant went on to say that IT procurement is becoming transparent, and said that with smaller contracts and use of “frameworks” it’s becoming easier to compare costs.
The framework he appears to be referring to is G-Cloud and CloudStore, the latter a vast catalogue of approved suppliers and services that is supposed to make it easier for government to shop for and buy IT and to pick suppliers.
CloudStore contains 1,700 services from 257 suppliers. The government has promised a new round of companies will be certified this month.
Underpinning all this is the shift to “digital by default”. Chant says government must design services around customers “whether that customer is a citizen in front of a web browser at home or one of our own staff working in an office”.
The government is also pushing departments to publish data sets under the Open Data Initiative.
Chant is the latest person inside Whitehall’s G-Cloud programme to speak publicly about the government’s progress.
Earlier this month G-Cloud Ministry of Justice representative Emma Gawen complained of “myths and confusion” surrounding its plans for security accreditation on G-Cloud. Among these, is a belief accreditation is “just unnecessary bureaucracy”, she said.
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