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Minister begins clean-up of government IT systems

28-03-2017 News UK

The Minister for Public Sector Innovation will lead a major clean-up of the government's ICT systems. This includes the large number of systems that have not been maintained or put up for tender, and the large public IT projects that now need to be led to a successful conclusion. As a result, the enormous sums spent by the government on IT every year will be put to much better use.

On 29 January, Sophie Løhde (Liberal Party), the Minister for Public Sector Innovation, launched work on a new ICT strategy to change how central government authorities work with ICT. Among other things, the project is being launched on the basis of the results of a financial review, which showed that the government spends about DKK 7 billion on ICT annually and that several ICT systems central to Danish society, are in poor shape. 

Ms. Løhde intends to enhance management and control of government ICT:
 
“Today, ICT is just as vital infrastructure as electricity and roads. With so many ICT projects making front page news, and following the financial review of the government's ICT-systems, it’s become clear for us all that something must be done. It's time to make a change. We simply have to spend taxpayers' money more intelligently." 

No shortcuts 

According the Minister, there are no quick and easy solutions. It will require very thorough groundwork to establish a solid foundation for future work on government ICT. Therefore, the Minister has launched this important work with a new government ICT strategy: 

"Today, the government has about 4,000 ICT systems, and several of them have not been properly maintained. We need a sweeping approach, and this will take some time. However, I am convinced that it is possible. We have to find the key to developing new projects at the right price and without delays. We also have to make sure that we maintain these projects once they have been launched. 
This will demand a fundamental change in the way the government works with ICT. The road will be long and hard. There’s no quick fix. The ICT strategy will lead to several significant changes in the area; changes which will ensure that our digital infrastructure is run professionally and safely," said the Minister. 
One of the Minister's initiatives is to create a working group with participants from government authorities and external experts. In the period up to summer 2017, they will be working together on drafting a strategy proposal. 

Facts 

Government ICT strategy

The government ICT strategy is one of the initiatives of the 2016 government coalition agreement. 

Financial review of government IT 

The financial review of government ICT includes ICT costs, ICT systems, and ICT projects. Among other things, the review showed that the government spends an estimated DKK 7 billion annually on ICT. 

Important focus areas in the new government ICT strategy 

The future ICT strategy will contain a number of specific initiatives to ensure a strong governmental digital infrastructure. The financial review and the ICT strategy focus on ICT projects and therefore do not include large-scale development projects. Furthermore, the strategy focuses on central government and does not include the municipalities and regions. Focus areas will include: 

  • Better prioritisation of ICT costs and ICT activities. There is great potential for far better utilisation of the substantial resources allocated annually to government ICT. There is also a need to establish a full overview of planned and ongoing ICT projects and systems, etc. This would create a stronger foundation on which to coordinate across government authorities and for long term planning of the ICT portfolio.
  • Improved follow-up on projects central to Danish society. There is a need to reduce the risk of ICT projects floundering or exceeding their deadlines or budgets. There is therefore a need for a more differentiated approach to large-scale ICT projects which are crucial for society and that have to be monitored more closely. Government authorities must be offered better advice by Danish Council for IT Projects. 
  • Safe operation of government ICT systems central to Danish society. There is a need to improve the authorities' work on ICT systems. This applies not least to the systems that are critical to government functions or to society as a whole. The government's ICT systems must be continuously maintained and developed, and the public authorities must be much better at exposing ICT solutions to competition and market mechanisms.