IT in the public sector doesn’t have a positive image, although many of the high profile failures are large scale projects such as the Universal Credit. It should also be remembered that large scale private sector IT failures also abound, as any RBS customer can testify.
As a consequence the UK government has now adopted a more decentralised approach, seeking to encourage innovation and local solutions. The Scottish Government is developing the approach in the McClelland Report, that seems to us to be predicated on big IT solutions.
The IPPR has published a new report focusing on grassroots projects that develop technological solutions to specific problems rather than standardised ‘off-the-shelf’ products. They focus on frontline tools that interact directly with practitioners and users.
The case studies in this report also illustrate how technology can improve the quality of public services by transforming the experience of people delivering and receiving these services. They can also free up professional time to focus on service delivery and generate savings through early intervention. The sort of preventative spending recommended by the Christie Commission.
Large-scale, top-down public sector technology programmes have been beset by problems. This report suggests that encouraging grassroots innovation is the best path to successful tech-powered services.