Jerry Fishenden has started a very interesting and worthwhile post concerning how IT can be used to rethink Public Services.
I covered in my previous post the whole issue of managing budgets. In essence any new CEO/Team taking over an organisation will want to ensure where money is being spent, it is delivering value and delivering against the strategy and objectives they wish to see the organisation following. It is not about IT projects, they only exist to deliver the objectives of the business. If the project, IT or not, no longer fulfils the objectives of the business it should be closed or modified.
I want to move this post onto Jerry's other point about rethinking the use of IT in Public Services. First of all a little background to help frame the art of the possible: the public services are a collection of central government departments, executive agencies, non departmental public bodies, local governments, trusts etc, i.e.
There are over 750 NDPB's (as at 31/03/2008). There are 423 local authorities who make up the Local Government Association and cover every part of England and Wales. Together they represent over 50 million people and spend around £113 billion a year on local services.
In health they are responsible for the provision of health services through the NHS. These services are delivered locally by 1.3 million staff in more than 300 organisations and through approximately 5,200 GP practice premises, as well as other primary care services. These services are in contact every day with over 1.5 million patients and their families.
In education there are over 24,000 schools, supported by over 400,000 teachers.
The Police as at 31 March 2009 had 243,126 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff working in the 43 police forces of England and Wales.
I could go on...
They are governed differently; they have their own agenda's and strategies and those strategies and local decisions have shaped their own IT strategies and their own IT functions. Many will be outsourced; they will use every kind of architecture, vast amounts of differing hardware and software, some home grown, some COTS. Much of this is selected by the supplier not the public body as public sector European procurement rules enforce non discrimination which means that you cannot generally specify a product or brand-name but must specify the outcome you wish to achieve.
Jerry said "...there is a more fundamental question about the effective configuration of government itself to be considered". So what is the question?
Are we configured correctly? If not what should it be? Will it be better or just different? Is it possible? How long and how much would it cost?
Is the balance right between localism and centralism? What do we mean by local when services are provided over the telephone or the internet? Given the already devolved nature of public services will there ever be one perfect model? \if not what should the models be?
... add your own question...
So given the high level description of Public Services I have provided let's talk strategy, Information Architectures, Enterprise Architectures. Jerry wants to develop "a left to right integrated set of IT building blocks to underpin public service delivery right across the board...", so do I, but first of all what do we mean by underpin? Does this mean every public body is mandated to use them, or will it be optional?