Speaking at the Public Sector ICT Conference – run by CSW publisher Dods – in London last week, Nelson said that one of the major challenges facing his department is developing new technologies, and ensuring it has the skills necessary to use them.
DWP’s new director general for digital transformation, Kevin Cunnington, wants to create the academy to build technical skills, Nelson said. Cunnington ran a similar project at Vodafone, where he previously worked as head of online.
The department will improve its skills base, Nelson said, through “mixture of recruitment and growth”.
He also told the audience that the DWP’s plans for Universal Credit are likely to be revealed before Christmas. The UC programme has been widely criticised for its management and its IT system, which was described by the National Audit Office as “inflexible”.
DWP spent £303m on the system, £200m of which – the Major Projects Authority has suggested – may have to be written off.
The figure has been disputed by the DWP, and UC director general Howard Shiplee told a Public Accounts Committee hearing in September that the amount cannot be determined until he completes a full review. This, Nelson said, has now happened and an announcement by ministers will be made soon.