Legacy technology, data challenges and lack of joint funding bids are hampering cross-departmental collaboration, warns senior official – PublicTechnology

As the current three-year spending review period draws to a close, Whitehall leaders have advised MPs that institutional cooperation should start with business plans and bids for Treasury support.

The ability of departments to collaborate across organizational boundaries continues to be hampered by issues such as legacy IT systems and challenges in getting the most out of data, senior officials argue.

In a recent discovery session at the Public Accounts Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into cross-government initiatives, MPs also said departments were failing to take advantage of opportunities for joint funding bids to review spending. It was done.

With the rollout of a major new shared services plan underway, Nathan Moores, Director of Shared Services Strategy at the Cabinet Office, told the committee that technology and data infrastructure challenges continue to support collaboration. He said that it was a barrier.

“The back-office landscape across government, across 18 departments and independent agencies, includes approximately 205 core systems that perform human resources, finance, and payroll. Compounding this problem is the There are 655 more systems,” he said. “The legacy IT debt landscape we have collectively inherited has served a purpose in getting us this far, but these systems are nearing the end of their commercial life and end of support. ”

There is also a shortage of analytical experts with the evaluation skills to make the most of data, said Catherine Hutchinson, head of the Evaluation Taskforce, a joint body between the Cabinet Office and the Treasury. He said work is underway to address this problem by creating an “evaluation academy that will train departmental trainers to improve the skills of our people and help them make the most effective use of the data they have.” He said it was inside.

Meanwhile, Cat Little, head of government finance and second permanent secretary at the Treasury, said it was “a real shame there aren’t that many” funding bids jointly developed and submitted by multiple agencies.

He added that “despite further guidance and top-down training”, the government received 28 joint funding bids in the 2021 spending review.

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More than 1,000 finance and policy officials have been trained on how to conduct joint bids, but Mr Little said the government “will need to do more to celebrate the gains in the next spending review”. ” he said. Little commented that the government also needs to do a “top-down call for bids.”

He also told the committee there would be “leadership, culture, performance management and financial benefits” from having the departments work more closely together. “Politicians also have a very important role to play because, in my experience, ultimately we serve the government. “We want that, and we want to make that a priority,’ and of course that’s what motivates government officials to get results,” Little said.

In preparation for the comprehensive review, the Cabinet Office’s Central Digital Data Office has advised the Treasury with the aim of ensuring efforts to tackle legacy IT and realize transformation objectives are appropriately supported. . The review ended up committing a total of £2.6 billion to addressing legacy and combating cyber risks.

Cabinet Office Secretary Alex Chisholm, who also appeared before the committee at last month’s hearing, spoke of the “holy grail” of cross-government collaboration and warned that fiscal pressures will require innovation and proper evaluation.

“There’s a bit of a status quo bias at work in government business,” he said. “That bias will be challenged by the fiscal pressures currently exerting on all mature democracies. Demand for services will continue to grow, without the limitless expansion of taxes and debt. There is.”

Mr Chisholm commented: “Then people will think, “If we want to continue to provide that service at a higher or better standard in the future, we need to innovate.” We need a systematic trial to implement it.”, it has been well evaluated. ” He also addressed the issue of turnover, saying, “We want people to stay for a period of time to build up expertise and see things through.”

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