‘We focus on our strategy to deliver’: DWP digital boss hits back at rumours of overspend

Written by Rebecca Hill on 23 November 2016 in News

The director general of digital technology at the Department for Work and Pensions Mayank Prakash has written an article praising his team’s work after media reports that it has overspent its budget and cancelled a number of its projects.

Mayank Prakash has said that DWP is a very different place now - Photo credit: Dods

Last week, PublicTechnology reported that the department had let go a number of IT contractors, with multiple digital projects undergoing review and some rumoured to have been cancelled.

A DWP spokesman said at the time that “it is untrue that there is a project overspend”, but did not deny that projects were under review, saying that the department “routinely reviewed” its work.

Now, Prakash has published an article on Linked In that indicates his frustration at the media reports of the situation at DWP Digital, emphasising that the way the department works has changed.

“DWP is a very different place,” Prakash wrote. “No longer is our focus on managing long term contracts with a few big suppliers. We own iterative outcomes by designing, developing and iterating our digital services, as we build partnerships with a range of innovative partners.”

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Prakash acknowledged that some IT contractors had left the department, saying that it had “bid farewell to 293 contractors, thanking them for their contributions” but that there were still 359 contractors in DWP’s delivery teams.

He added that the department had hired 376 staff this year, and that it was “building multi-disciplinary teams blending expertise” that “draw on the best talent from across sectors to design and iterate modern services around customer needs”.

In addition, he said that DWP Digital’s leaders would next week “set out our future operating model to leap frog transformation across industries”.

Prakash also emphasised that the department wanted to “build partnerships with a range of innovative partners” – but that this did not mean DWP was insourcing everything.

“Instead we have performance driven partnerships with the leading providers of products and services like every large enterprise in the world,” he said.

In his most direct reference to the overspend rumours, Prakash said: “We have spent half of the annual budget in the first half of the year.”

Elsewhere in the post, Prakash mentioned the Carers Allowance Digital Service, which ideamode, a company that helped identify the scheme as a digital exemplar, claimed on Twitter that DWP is abandoning.

Although the department declined to respond to this claim when asked by PublicTechnology, Prakash said in his post: “Our first digital service for Carers continues to grow and set the trend.

“Understandably, instead of focussing on queries about the service being shut down two years after it went live, we focus on our strategy to deliver.”

He added: “We have delivered 51 Universal Credit Full Service releases with a million lines of code - predictably every fortnight.”

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