The public service agreements for the 2007 comprehensive review require departments and agencies to work across boundaries in ways that will not happen unless departments and their suppliers really do move away from the failed world of “big bang” solutions, whether in-house or outsourced. Will we see the creation of a new generation of the hire purchase (alias PFI) contracts that have enriched a generation of consultants, lawyes and salesmen at the expense of taxpayers, service recipients and shareholders alike. Or have politicians (including Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Policy Advisors) finally come to understand that it is not humanly possible to agree specifications for timely and efficient, centrally planned and controlled, user-centric systems? But who will tell them them that – when so many senior players made their reputations telling them the opposite.
The next general election “will be won or lost in 80 marginal constituencies where the number of knowledge economy jobs at risk from global competition is greater than the majority of the incumbent MP”.
Over 400 delegates attended a fringe meeting addressed by the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry (Patrick now Lord Jenkin) and Education and Science (Norman, now Lord Tebbit) on the critical importance of IT to the UK economy at the Conservative Party Conference in 1982. Over twenty IT companies had stands outside to reinforce that message
Then IT was seen as the “metatechnology” of the future. Today it really does underpin society. But the only IT-related fringe meetings at the conference this year appear to be those on the need to balance the war against terror and civil liberties within the ippr , programme, on the perils of electronic voting from the Openrights Group and on Avoiding Computer Aided Catastrophe (alias the need for a joined up approach to information assurance), organised by the Conservative Technology Forum . Few ICT suppliers are exhibiting at the conferences and most no longer have any public affairs or political relations staff to send.
LIttle wonder we do not have well informed political debate on matters IT
In the early 1980s the UK IT industry punched well above its weight politically. IT was seen as “the metatechnology of the new age” and major computer users, not just suppliers, were politically active on issues of concern. Today society is critically dependent on ICT but IT punches well below its weight politically. Why?