The Coalition has laid heavy emphasis on the importance of technology in government in its mid-term review, saying that the public sector cannot, and should not, be shielded from the revolution in information technology.
Much of the review highlight’s the government’s 'successes' since coming into power two and a half years ago, including publishing almost 9,000 datasets as part of its open data initiative, the publication of the government’s digital strategy and launch of the single domain website GOV.UK.
“Data is a powerful democratic tool with the huge potential to increase political accountability, administrative efficiency and public service quality, informing choice over public services and squeezing out waste at every turn,” reads the review document.
“In the process, transparency promises to do something more important still: to recast the relationship between the state and the individual, putting choice in the hands of consumers, control in the hands of service users and power in the hands of citizens.”
It continues: “At the same time, open data is fuelling new business and growth.”
The Coalition has also reiterated, as part of its plans for the next two and a half years, that it will ‘open up government procurement’ and attempt to create a level playing field for open-source software and split large ICT projects into smaller components.
It has also pointed to its plans to transition all government departments, agencies and arm’s length bodies onto GOV.UK by April 2014 and to redesign all government transactions (more than 100,000 per year) to make them digital by default.
“And on all of these key aims, our parties, after 32 months of coalition, remain steadfast and united. Of course there have been some issues on which we have not seen eye to eye, and no doubt there will be more. That is the nature of coalition,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.
“But on the things that matter most – the big structural reforms needed to secure our country’s long term future – our resolve and sense of shared purpose have, if anything, grown over time.”
He added: “Today, at the half-way point in the parliament, we are taking stock of the progress we have made in implementing the coalition agreement that we signed in May 2010. But we are also initiating a new set of reforms, building on those already underway, to secure our country’s future and help people realise their ambitions.”
The review also confirmed the government’s commitment to provide £100 million for NHS nurses and midwives to spend on new technology to free up time for patient care and make essential patient details instantly available on the ward.
The government has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent months to drive down the cost of IT spend in the public sector, whilst making it more intuitive for the general public to interact with public services.