I keep an eye on the UK government IT market because the situation there is often reflective of ours, Stateside. I think this article demonstrates that fact. For example:
At the national level, the move from ‘e‑government’ to a ‘transformational government strategy’ in 2005 represented a big, and profoundly welcome, change — not just in language, but in philosophy too. Gone were ‘IT projects’ and in came ‘ICT-enabled projects’, thereby emphasising the transformative potential of ICT. It put citizens at the heart of joined up public services, promised more responsive services and greater efficiency – no small task.
Whilst this was undoubtedly a step in the right direction there is some way to go before many public services can claim to be truly transformational. As research from The Work Foundation suggests, the same old problems persist.
This is precisely what has happened here in the US. We’ve moved from “e‑gov” to a notion of IT in government that focuses on its ability to transform operations and create a nirvana of a fully-connected, integrated public enterprise. Which is complete hogwash, obviously, but comforting in its universal pig-cleansing appeal.
Anyway, this article prescribes the following as being the antidote to project failures:
- Make sure the project is a high priority with senior management.
- Spend only what can be justified in business terms, not for IT’s sake.
- Manage the risks associated with change in the public sector.
- Pilot projects, and develop iteratively.
- Provide incentives for agencies to work together and “join up” services.
Incidentally, despite my insisting that aluminium should be spelled with that extra “u”, I’m pretty irritated by the insistence of Europeans to refer to IT as “ICT” (Information and Communications Technology, apparently). Does anyone else share this particular annoyance, or am I doomed to sit in a lonely corner with my Oxford English Dictionary as company…again?