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Legacy Technology: Half of the government’s £ 5bn annual IT spending is dedicated to “keeping the lights on.”

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Each year, a government-trusted report found that half of the department’s total IT spending was spent “keeping the lights on” for legacy technology.

NS Organize digital distribution In 2019, the government faced a cumulative cost of £ 2.3 billion annually to maintain legacy IT, according to a report from the Digital Economic Council. That’s almost half of the total £ 4.7 billion spent on IT that year across the government.

The dissemination of legacy technology (often referred to as technical debt) is one of the seven key challenges the report claims to be the most important barrier for governments to achieve their digital ambitions.

In reference to a survey of government security experts, the report states: “Some departmental services do not even meet the minimum cybersecurity standards, so the inability to extract usable data from these legacy systems is a government-wide process transformation and innovation from multiple interviewees. As an example, home offices (the departments that spend the most on a single technology) have a clear understanding of the risks, and after three to four years of effort, none of the twelve large operational legacy systems can be abolished. did. “

The Digital Economy Council cited “uncertain quality of technical product offerings” as the first of the seven challenges identified in the report.


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“There are many examples of effective project and service delivery, but there are many examples of projects that failed to meet the required specifications or significantly exceeded their time and budget,” he said.

The “Failed” project for developing GOV.UK’s identity assurance tools was chosen as an example of a program that represents failure to follow best practices such as “ruthless focus.” [on] Minimize creep in features and scope, and engage in ongoing product maintenance and feature development in the light of observed user behavior. “

The need for long-term product maintenance needs to be better reflected in the funding model, some tech leaders told the council.

“Building technology services is not the same as building bridges. Revenue is not a fixed investment,” said one.

A representative of the Ministry of Justice told the author of the report: “In 2014/15, we built a very good service to help citizens book visits with people in prisons. We did a lot of research and now account for 60% after launch. But once built, funds disappeared, services shrank, technology stacks shrank, and were taken up. “

Operational indicators
Another key challenge to government digital goals, according to the report, is “relatively weak operational performance,” with a standard operational and progress quarterly review of “major private or public sector organizations.” It is said to be rare in white holes.

“This usually involves checking both the ongoing set of operational metrics (system uptime, number of cyberattack attempts, customer satisfaction and recruitment metrics, cost and efficiency performance, etc.), as well as major development projects. We need to keep track of our progress to prevent problems. They were identified relatively early and the necessary corrective actions were taken, “the report said. “This routine discipline is not currently practiced in a systematic way across civil servants.”

Another current barrier to digital distribution is the government’s “failure to leverage scale.” This manifests itself in procurement where many departments sign individual contracts for products such as software licenses, and the report states that “best practices cannot be shared between different departments and technical standards are inconsistent. “.

The report also identifies “missing the opportunity to leverage government-owned datasets” as another important issue. In particular, “decision-making behavior, given that many government sectors have invested heavily in the collection and storage of very large datasets, but this data is rarely used to impact them.”

The penultimate issue addressed in the report was the lack of technical skills in the knowledge of senior civil servant leaders other than the digital, data and technology cohorts.

“At the very least, leaders need to be able to effectively audit the performance of digital features, such as realistically predicting the time, cost, and questions asked to assess whether deliveries are on, or off-track. “.

The final challenge is what the council characterizes as a “confusion” about the role of government digital services and centralized DDaT capabilities. It is currently overseen by the newly established Central Digital Data Office.

The report argues that it is beneficial for the GDS to “refocus on its core mission,” and states that confidence in the Vice-Minister has been lost.

To address seven challenges, the report has made eight recommendations.

  • Build a mechanism that puts citizens at the center of all design decisions
  • Strengthen accountability of departments and their administrative vice ministers
  • Hire a DDaT Vice-Minister-level functional officer
  • Refocus and add a tooth in the center
  • Make a clear investment to deal with legacy debt
  • Set up a quarterly business review process
  • Invest in the development of technical fluency in senior civil service leadership
  • Create a good government data application center

This report was commissioned by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports. The publication was in line with another review published by former Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who investigated the role and effectiveness of centralized government functions.

Michael Gove, the incumbent of the Cabinet Office, said: “Thanks to Sir Mode and members of the Digital Economy Council for a very thoughtful and detailed investigation into the activities of the Cabinet Office and the wider government. Both reports improve recruitment and service of civil servants. It raises some important issues that need to be addressed, such as better reflecting the people who deliver it, addressing the history of outdated IT systems, and transforming the way data is used across governments. Much of this work is already underway, but there’s still a lot to do and no time to waste. “

Legacy Technology: Half of the government’s £ 5bn annual IT spending is dedicated to “keeping the lights on.”

Source link Legacy Technology: Half of the government’s £ 5bn annual IT spending is dedicated to “keeping the lights on.”

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