Policy Exchange has thrown down the gauntlet to all the major political parties and demanded politicians place technology at the heart of their manifestos for next year’s general election.
In a report released today, the Whitehall think tank said that the next parliament should pledge to drive standardised, interoperable systems and business process across the public sector.
According to Policy Exchange's own research, better use of technology could save the public sector £24 billion a year by 2014. This compares to the £1.7 billion each year the government expects to save by digitising public services.
Government as a Platform
The report, titled ‘Technology Manifesto’, recommended that once central government departments have redesigned 25 ‘exemplar’ digital services, they should move on to focusing on the next 125, as the top 150 government transactions account for over 95 percent of all interactions with government.
To support this, Policy Exchange said that the next parliament should focus on phasing out the widespread bespoke software, hardware and processes across the public sector and replacing them with standardised, simple and interoperable alternatives.
It claimed that this ‘Government as a Platform’ model is ‘the only viable way to reduce the costs of IT’. It added: “for this to happen, the Government Digital Service cannot be an island of innovation in an otherwise unreformed civil service.”
GDS for local government
In addition, the think tank recommended a ‘local GDS hub’ be set up to create one single website for local government. The hub would also advocate the adoption of open standards and advise councils on how to adopt a ‘Government as a Platform’ model for their IT.
The authors suggest it should be within Socitm but supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government, SOLACE and the Local Government Association.
The report, which was co-sponsored by EMC, recommended that the government encourage the wide adoption of electronic proof of identity for its services, use electronic purchasing by default, and aim to eliminate paper-based processes for routine interactions within government by 2020.
The report also called for an ‘Advanced Analytics Team’ to be set up within the Cabinet Office, with a remit for identifying ‘big data’ opportunities and helping departments to exploit them. It said that this could help the government to save more than £1 billion a year.