A week is a long time in politics – a phrase that remains as true to today as when it’s said to have been first uttered by Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1960s.
But if a week is a long time, then seven months is practically an eternity.
That, though, is roughly how much time will have passed between the announcement of the 2020 Government Transformation Strategy and the opening of the sixth annual Government ICT 2.0 conference in London.
It was on 9th February 2017 that Theresa May’s government unveiled its three-year plan to transform the relationship between citizens and the state, by improving and modernising its digital services. A commendable aim, certainly, but today we find the political landscape in a dramatically different shape to what it was at the beginning of the year. What does that mean for IT?
First and foremost, since that announcement, we’ve seen a working Conservative parliamentary majority replaced by a minority government, thanks to a snap election – an election that resulted, significantly for the tech industry, in the loss of the Tories’ Ipswich seat.
As well as being one of many Labour Party scalps, Ipswich was held by the Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, whose name, crucially, adorns the Government Transformation Strategy policy paper. Gummer was a central part of launching this initiative, and with him now out of the picture, it’s natural to question how this might affect its implementation – especially seeing as his replacement, Damian Green, is likely find himself distracted by his duties as First Secretary of State.
As if that change weren’t meteoric enough already, the past few months have also brought with them repeated threats of a ‘hard Brexit’, currently without any clear plan in place. Strong and stable this is not.
It’s against this backdrop of uncertainty that Government ICT 2.0 will take place. More than 350 senior executives, tech leaders and digital experts will gather in the County Hall in London, coming from central and local government and private sector organisations – their aim clearly stated on the official website:
“This year, the conference will review the technical and infrastructure requirements presented by the 2020 Government Transformation Strategy.”
Well, no, not really. If anything, the events of the past seven months make events like Government 2.0 more important than ever. If the Government Transformation Strategy were to ever find itself in jeopardy, a forum such as this would provide an invaluable opportunity for both private and public sector professionals to gather and find solutions.
Of course, such drastic thinking is probably unnecessary. The government’s priorities may lie elsewhere right now, but the nation’s technological future has been at the top of the Tory wishlist for some time, and that’s not likely to change in the near future.
It’s true the government has not achieved all its digital and tech targets in the past, and has suffered a few high-profile IT disasters, but it will be keen to build on its successes in spite of this. Among these successes are the Government Digital Service, G-Cloud and Gov.uk – all ushered in by the influential Lord Maude of Horsham (Francis Maude).
If the government’s £1 billion alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party holds firm, then it’s probably safe to assume the Transformation Strategy will also remain on the books. The real question we have to ask is whether it will be able to reach its potential, given the challenging circumstances it now finds itself in.
The answer to that remains to be seen, of course, but with the right leadership, in both the private and public sectors, and the right kind of commitment to the programme, there’s no reason this wide reaching plan can’t fulfil its ambitions.
While the Government ICT 2.0 conference won’t be the only opportunity to discuss these issues, it could prove to be one of the most important, and well worth attending.
Clearvision has a long, successful history of working with the public sector. We’ll be at Government ICT 2.0 with Atlassian on 26th September, so make sure to drop by and have a chat.
Also, don’t miss the seminar with Mark Giles of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service. Working with Clearvision, Mark oversaw the migration from Atlassian Cloud to Atlassian Data Center, and he’ll be sharing the lessons he learnt and the results his teams have enjoyed using the Atlassian tools since the migration.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a convenient time for a chat.