Social Enterprise

Government IT Agenda Setters 2010: Putting the IT into Whitehall

The 30 people deciding the future of government IT

silicon.com's Government IT Agenda Setters list is a who's who of figures focused on using IT to reform public services in the UK.

Far from seeing IT as a drain on the public purse, these people are recasting technology as a saviour in today's economically troubled times, with a key role in cutting billions from the cost of running government.

A major figure helping to transform the way government is run and the role that technology plays within it will be Ian Watmore, COO of the Efficiency and Reform Group and soon to be chairman of the CIO Council - and number one on the silicon.com Government IT Agenda Setters list.

In these twin posts Watmore will play a pivotal role in reshaping the way the public sector uses technology, a process begun under outgoing government CIO John Suffolk.

The technology transformation started by Suffolk is underpinned by cloud computing, technology reuse, shared services, standardisation and cross-government procurement. Watmore will help to decide how to marry these initiatives with the coalition's goals of making public services cheaper to deliver, easier to access and better targeted at individual needs.

The Government IT Agenda Setters list is full of the decision makers charged with realising the technology transformation vision - notably Chris Chant, programme director for the G-Cloud; Lesley Hume, director of shared ICT infrastructure for the Cabinet Office and John Stubley, programme director for the Public Sector Network.

Coupled to the retooling of government IT is a drive to kill off the excesses and waste that have historically dogged technology in the public sector - a drive that has led to Home Secretary Theresa May's axing of the ID cards project and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude's announcement that all new IT projects costing more than £1m must be approved centrally.

IT will have a huge role to play in helping government deliver public services for less money

IT will have a huge role to play in helping government deliver public services for less money
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

CIOs who made the list are turning their departments into trailblazers for government - such as the Department for Work and Pensions CIO Joe Harley with his department's heavy focus on shared services and HM Revenue & Customs CIO Phil Pavitt testing offshore application development.

Technology, it seems, is no longer something to be shunned by MPs, with digital delivery as the default for providing a wide range of public services, according to the Treasury's October spending review. Martha Lane Fox is charged with making it easier to access public services online and to get the digital have-nots wired up.

The public won't just be accessing services online, but also finding out exactly how government is spending their money and telling their leaders what they're doing wrong - at least that's the idea behind data.gov.uk, the website that web science expert Nigel Shadbolt helped set up to provide access to all non-personal data collected by government.

Delivering these services will require a superfast broadband backbone across the UK, with CEO of Ofcom Ed Richards and communications minister Ed Vaizey trying to ensure Britain's broadband backwaters don't get left out.

Of course, many of these ambitions have yet to be realised, and government IT has still to undergo its transformation into a digital doorway to cheap and personalised public services.

But the plan is there, and these are the people focused on making it happen. It's now up to them to make it a reality.

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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