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Reform points to shortcomings in public sector digital infrastructure


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Covid-19 has highlighted the need for a solid digital infrastructure in the public sector, according to a new thinktank report.

Reform says the pandemic has given a new impetus to digital transformation, but that it is crucial that the Government capitalises on this by investing in the basics of data infrastructure, skills, new ways of working and moving away from legacy technology.

The report, Digital public services: what’s next? says some organisations responded well to the pandemic, such as HM Revenue and Customs in setting up a new payment system and parts of the NHS in partnering with private sector stakeholders to link datasets.

But others were not as quick to respond due to a lack of infrastructure, struggling to deliver the ‘digital first’ services needed during lockdown.

It comes up with three ideas to support transformation efforts, the first being the development of a cross-government skills strategy with a clear focus on retaining digital leaders, potentially reviewing pay scales to compete with the private sector.

Second is to identify and overcome the barriers to moving away from legacy technology, with the support of a cross-government legacy IT fund.

Third is to review the limits on spending that currently limit the public sector’s ability to invest in pay-per-use technology.

Crucial reminder

“The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a crucial reminder that, while notable progress has been made over the past decade, the public sector’s digital infrastructure is not consistently ‘fit for purpose’,” the report concludes, adding:

“The pandemic has given new impetus to digital transformation and has made a clear case for why getting the infrastructure right is key.”

Front image from iStock, metamorworks

Image in text from iStock, oatawa

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