Gershon IT strategy slammed

The government’s high-profile Gershon Review has been heavily criticised as ‘too piecemeal’ and over-focused on individual units of activity rather than having an ‘overall system approach’.

In its study, entitled The role of information and communication technology in public services, the Work Foundation – formerly known as the Industrial Society – said that Whitehall’s public sector efficiency drive would need to use ICT ‘differently’ if it was to have ‘any hope’ of realising its aim of making auditable gains in excess of £20bn by 2008.

The report accused the Gershon Review of being ‘piecemeal’, and said that it needed to adopt an ‘organisational’ strategy if it was to succeed.

‘Reforming transactional services, changing the way the back office works and re-assessing procurement processes are all issues that, to be successful, require change at an organisational level,’ the study said.

It questioned whether Gershon would manage to hit its 2008 targets and whether the public sector had ‘the capacity to develop the procurement skills required’, particularly as procurement and ICT had historically encountered problems with ‘incompatible systems’.

The report added that Gershon’s targets were ‘heavily predicated’ on the use of technology to transform ways of working within government and questioned how the efficiency drive was aiming to use ICT more effectively in the light of previous ‘failed ICT projects’.

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