NAO has ‘significant concerns’ for Government ICT Strategy

Jennifer Scott News
23 Dec, 2011

Although March’s ICT Strategy has mostly stuck to deadlines, the National Audit Office has its own issues with the Cabinet Office.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said this week it had “significant concerns” with the first six months’ implementation of the Government’s ICT Strategy.

When it first launched in March, the NAO concluded the plans were “very ambitious” and it was worried the strategy would “deliver no greater benefit than its predecessors.”

Although its six month progress report did praise the Cabinet Office for “largely [meeting] the first round of the Strategy deadlines,” it said issues around lacking a resource plan for how and when to move departments to new ICT models, not filling technical skills gaps for implementation and not having clear criteria for measuring business outcomes were holding it back.

“These concerns can be dealt with but need to be addressed in the short term if they are not to become significant barriers to progress,” read the report.

The NAO also identified two more “high-level risks” to the ICT Strategy, claiming it might not deliver a “lasting legacy for public and business” and the Government might not be able to measure or demonstrated the progress the scheme has made.

As such, it has written to the Cabinet Office with recommendations to improve the implantation going forward.

These included: doing more to train departments in using the new technologies, engaging more with non-techie civil servants, addressing skills gaps, maintaining good relationships with suppliers and looking to other countries for experiences of how they made such changes.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, concluded: “The Government’s ICT Strategy is in its early days and initial signs are good.”

“However, new ways of working are as dependent on developing the skills of people in the public sector as they are on changes to technology and processes; the big challenge is to ensure that the Strategy delivers value in each of these areas."

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