The modern day equivalent of the decision to build a sewerage system underneath London or constructing the National Grid is the development of efficient government digital services.
This is according to Cabinet Office (opens in new tab) Minister Francis Maude (opens in new tab), who made the comparison between these historical events at the techUK Public Services 2030 Conference (opens in new tab).
“New common platforms cut across the structure of government, providing a common core infrastructure of digital services technology and business processes,” Maude claimed.
The Minister argued that Whitehall is evolving into “government as a platform,” completely modernising the way in which it delivers its services to the country.
He claims that what used to be a system of disjointed and fragmented public services is now a more joined-up environment where different Departments have access to cross-government platforms.
According to Maude, GOV.UK (opens in new tab), the government’s redesigned website, is just one example of success that demonstrates how Whitehall is working as one in the digital age.
Upon this “brink of revolution” which the Minister described at the event is the end of the “era of bespoke solutions commissioned with extortionate costs by individual Departments.”
“For too long government IT meant interminable procurement processes to buy services and tech that were obsolete in many cases before the contract was even started, let alone by the time it had run its course,” Maude claimed.
“That combination of words – British, government, IT project – was a pretty catastrophic one five years ago. It isn’t now,” he added.
Increasing SME Inclusion
Besides a focus on government transformation and the “end” of “extortionate” IT contracts, Maude also took the opportunity to praise Whitehall’s progress on allowing SMEs better access to public sector work.
“Big or small, established or disruptive, if you provide the right product at the right price we’ll do business with you,” the Minister claimed.
“We want a level playing field for all, biased only to those providing the best quality and price,” he added.