Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Central Government gravy train to hit the buffers?

Hot the heels of my post last week What now for UK Public Sector service suppliers? in which I noted “for the rest of central Government I see the current ‘gravy train’ of services work continuing at virtually the current levels”, Johm Ozimeck on the The Register suggests asks Is the UK.gov IT gravy train heading for the buffers?

John notes that IT contracts worth several billions of pounds may well be up for review within the next 12 to 18 months, including some contracts for new systems that a change of government would more than likely terminate, e.g. the ID cards scheme, the ContactPoint project and the Central NHS Spine – all projects that the Tories have already stated they are likely to chop.

Tory IT policy is generally aimed towards a more de-centralised approach – a policy that I believe is potentially far more successful than the current Government’s preference for large, centrally managed initiatives – many of which fail to involve local users sufficiently in their early stages of development (and tend to fail miserably when an attempt at roll-out is started).

Yes, there will be some new project cancellations, but there will be other projects to fill those gaps. However, I fear that in the early years of a new government, existing relationships between civil servants and the major service suppliers will drive the way new projects are procured – Ministers will be more focussed on policy rather than implementation – and it will be some years before we may see any fundamental changes to this market.

I think the buffers are still a long way away from the gravy train.....

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