Government publishes end of first year ICT strategy report

£159.6m saved through more rigorous business cases but further implementation challenges remain

The government’s publication of an end-of-first-year progress report on its ICT strategy shows it saved £159.6m on ICT contracts during the 2011-12 financial year, with a further £150m expected to be saved in 2012-13 through a common infrastructure.

In the 12 months from April 2011 to April 2012, the government said, central initiatives contributed to reductions in ICT spend reported by departments including:

• £159.6m by demanding a rigorous business case for any significant ICT spend.

• £140m of the £490m overall savings through centralising procurement of common goods and services.

• £64.2m saved from telecommunications networks budgets by applying better, common standards for the Public Services Network

The report provides an informative snapshot of the government’s procurement of ICT, including how it is reducing waste and project failure.

For example, the total number of software licences ‘held’ in the government’s assets and services register is 18.4m, However, the number ‘used’ is about 12m, indicating that 6m software licences are currently not being used.

The government currently has 84 data centres, with 17% of servers virtualised. In terms of agile project delivery, there are 35 projects using agile techniques.

Across government, there are currently 17 ICT contracts with a lifetime value greater than £100m, accounting for 27% of all active ICT procurements. In all, across government, there are 64 active ICT procurements.

The report’s publication coincided with publication of the latest G-Cloud procurement, which is intended to be more SME-friendly.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said a number of significant successes have been “chalked up”, including the launch of the Public Services Network frameworks; the launch of the Government Digital Service; and the creation of the CloudStore.

“We also demonstrate this government’s commitment to transparency and openness by the publication for the first time of a range of metrics relating to ICT in government. These will be developed to provide a more consistent benchmark for future years, demonstrating how uptake of the strategy is progressing,” he said.

“The next set of metrics will be published in October 2012, and we will report on progress again in spring 2013.”

In its progress report, the government said that over the past year, it has:

• Established the CIO Delivery Board, the governance body responsible for implementation of the strategy (April 2011).

• Launched the Public Services Network (PSN) frameworks (September 2011) and awarded the PSN Connectivity Framework, which have generated savings of £64.2m for 2011-12 (March 2012).

• Published more detailed strategies on specific areas, including capability, cioud computing, end user devices (EUDs), and green ICT (October 2011).

• Launched the Government Digital Service (GDS), a team within Cabinet Office tasked with transforming government digital services (December 2011).

• Issued the first cloud ICT services framework (October 2011) and created the CloudStore, a way for the public sector to buy ICT products and services via the cloud (February 2012).

The report says that improving the way the government sources ICT through centralised category management supports its aim of becoming a single customer that can leverage its buying power to drive down costs. As of March 2012, the report says, centralised category management of ICT has delivered £140m price savings against the 2009-10 baseline in central government

Citing a National Audit Office report that highlighted specific challenges with implementation, the report argues that the government’s chief information officer (CIO) Andy Nelson and the CIO Delivery Board are taking action, by “establishing new approaches to resourcing projects; and by putting in place stronger programme and project management. This will ensure that progress continues to be made and that, collectively, government implements its ICT strategy, enabling efficient, cost-effective public services which are responsive to the needs of citizens and businesses.”

The report also highlights the government’s closer engagement with SMEs, with the proportion of central government direct spending with SMEs across all procurements – including ICT – on track to double, from 6.5% of direct spend in 2009-10, to 13.7% (year to date) for 2011-12.

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