Thursday, 26 September 2013

Public sector IT to be simpler and more flexible

Government ICT 2.0 Conference

On Wednesday 25th September, 360 senior professionals gathered at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster to consider, discuss and debate the key topics driving the national IT agenda at both a local and national level.

The Government ICT 2.0 Conference provided the backdrop for a day exploring areas such as G-Cloud and Cloud, PSN, CoCo – Code of Connection, Open Source and flexible working. Leading experts including  Tony Singleton and John Stubley from the Cabinet Office, as well as case studies from Surrey, Brent and Solihull Councils provided delegates with a conference full of the most up to date and relevant information. The busy exhibition, full of key suppliers, also played an important part in the day’s success, facilitating networking and an opportunity for delegates to find solutions to meet their needs.

Dr Mark Thompson, Jonathan Bowers, John Stubley and Tony Singleton

Mark Thompson, the Event Chair, opened discussions, highlighting the potential transformation of the local government marketplace and standardised procurement in some areas of IT. Following this well received opening, Jonathan Bowers of UKFast, talked about the evolving role of hosting companies from technology providers to business enablers. Jonathan’s message centered on buyers understanding what they can demand and expect from a supplier, with both speed to enhance user experience and the delivery of technical support as clear priorities. Rhys Sharp, CTO at SCC picked up on this supplier angle, adding that they want to understand need.

In a day which offered expert, national and supplier perspectives, the case studies were major highlights. Here, Stephan Conaway presented on Brent’s approach to flexible working, and explored the use of technology in new ways. Surrey County Council also looked at flexible working, presenting on their approach to BYOD. Finally, Steve Halliday from Solihull and the President of Socitm, delivered an address on open source and the £1m annual savings in his local authority. Pragmatism was a major theme here, with Steve saying this is vital to approaches to information security and PSN compliance.

Two of the day’s final presentations were delivered by senior figures in the Cabinet Office. John Stubley, Operations Director for the Public Services Network began with the message that the future state must be simple, with modern services that run efficiently and effectively. On PSN, John said the common trust is essential and information needs to be safe. A major focus was on the new Protective Marking Scheme, due in April 2014. This will make organisations more accountable for how they use information in the future.

The closing keynote saw Tony Singleton from the Government Digital Service conclude with an outline of the current focus of GDS, with particular reference to the 25 exemplar projects looking to transform public services including voter registration and PAYE for employees.

But the main body of the address concerned Tony’s role as Head of the G-Cloud Project and with the tender process for G-Cloud 4 having closed on Monday, Tony highlighted what he termed ‘very promising’ figures for bids. These included 832 suppliers of which 83% are SMEs, with 7,300 services offered and 29,000 buyers.

Moving onto the objectives of G-Cloud 4, Tony said that the first three procurement rounds have been about what suppliers can offer. G-Cloud 4 signals a move to better understand need across the public sector and ensuring that this is satisfied by suppliers.