The ICT sector has given a cautious welcome to chancellor George Osborne’s Spending Review, but questions remain over what money pledged to the Government Digital Service will pay for.
Osborne yesterday announced £450m for the GDS which would amount to £125m annually over four years or £90m a year over five years – both scenarios up from this year’s £58m.
The Treasury said that it had approved a number of new Government as a Platform (GaaP) projects but failed to provide any details other than the previously-announced Gov.uk Pay system.
Phil Smith, chief executive of Cisco in the UK & Ireland and chairman of government innovation agency Innovate UK, said the review “presents an opportunity to demonstrate the significant capabilities of today’s innovative technology to optimise processes.
“As we see a reduction in departmental spend, and as more of the British public becomes ‘digitally native’, embracing the opportunities digitalisation offers to government can help remove traditional and expensive interaction processes.”
Julian David, chief executive of supplier representative organisation TechUK, said: “The news of investing £1.8 billion in digital transformation, including an increased budget of £450m for the Government Digital Service is welcome evidence of the government’s commitment to digital transformation.
“Government and industry must work closely together to bring innovation to government.”
But Kable chief analyst Jessica Figueras criticised the lack of detail in the Spending Review announcement.
She said: “GaaP got a mention, but the only new common platform promised was GOV.UK Pay.
“We’d suspect the extra cash will be spent on GOV.UK Verify, which will need to be scaled up fast to support new digital services across government, rather than being used to fund GDS-led development projects; but we won’t know for sure until more detail is available.”
David Moody, VP and global practice leader, government and public sector at supplier Verint said it remains to be seen whether the government has got to grips with the scale of the digital transformation challenge.
He said: “This is an overwhelming task, and far more complex than simply putting everything online. Digitisation does not lock out human interaction completely – in fact conversely it is a necessity for it to succeed, through positive engagement by upskilled staff.”
Achieving the aims would involve proactive engagement with the public to promote benefits and educate against misconceptions, he added.