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Lack of skills hindering Government's digital transformation

The National Audit Office (NAO (opens in new tab)) executive leader of digital and innovation Sally Howes claims more skills are required for the UK government’s digital transformation.

Howes told IT publication UKAuthority (opens in new tab) that Whitehall needs to develop new metrics and hire people with more core technology skills.

“We can’t be sure of metrics are the moment. We are looking at all of the projects we’ve looked at on IT and digital to extract lessons on what the metrics might be. If we can we will put it into the debate,” she told the website.

According to senior NAO leader, the nature of digital projects is changing and no longer need to be big or complex but the government is unaware of how to assess their value.

If value for money is to be achieved, she argues, Whitehall needs to hire people with a new range of skills including the ability to effective use real time information and complex data.

More Understanding Required

The subject is one that Howes also explored at last week’s techUK Public Services 2030 Conference (opens in new tab), where she told delegates that a better understanding is needed.

“The primary challenge is that in the old world, government and Parliament and audit bodies had a fairly good understanding of why IT projects were so big, consumed so much resource and were quite difficult to control,” she claimed.

“But I think the value of being created in this new digital government world is still being established and I don’t think we fully understand it yet.

“The logic of the Government Digital Service (GDS (opens in new tab)) and government policy is quite easy to follow and there is best practice in the private sector, but markets sort things out different to government.

“All of the things that have taken place, such as the digital exemplars (opens in new tab) and the Departments trying to change IT contracts, provide an important amount of learning,” Howes added.