The minister formerly in charge of government IT has criticised the pace of progress since he left office.
Francis Maude, who was Cabinet Office minister from 2010-15, wrote in the foreword to a report by think tank Policy Exchange: “There are worrying signs that in recent years progress has slipped. Without constant pressure from the centre, the natural tendency in any large organisation is for individual departments to slip back into defensive isolation.”
Maude, who is now Baron Maude of Horsham, added: “‘Government as a Platform’ will not happen without clear direction from the top. It is time to reboot. Government 2.0 is overdue.”
Report author Jonathan Dupont said the UK had “the potential to become the leading world hub” for government technology, alongside strengths in financial and regulatory technologies.
He added: “If the state is to remain fiscally sustainable, the government cannot afford to slow down its own progress on reform and digital transformation”.
The report, Redesigning Government in the Era of Intelligent Services, says that to become a global frontrunner for IT, the government would have to match the performance of leading digital companies, overcome legacy systems, ensure the public trusted data security and break down established top-down systems.
Dupont said doing this was not just a question of funding but would “require a serious confrontation of the obstacles that in the past have stood in the way of digital government”.
He admitted a number of major government IT projects had a record for “going seriously over time and seriously over budget” and that given “a long and enduring record of disasters in government IT, it is tempting to adopt a position of learned helplessness”.
But he argued that gvernment did not always do IT badly “especially compared to other large, incumbent bureaucracies in large companies”, having released thousands of datasets, created street level crime maps, and “turned the UK into a genuine world leader in open data”.