Officials believe that the internal culture of the civil service is one of the biggest barriers to adopting new technologies, a snapshot survey has revealed.
TechUK – a technology trade association representing more than 850 companies – surveyed 929 civil servants about the use of IT services and the role of technology in central government.
Some 71% of civil servants who responded to the survey said they felt the internal culture of the civil service was the biggest obstacle to adopting new technologies.
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The survey also found that while 86% of respondents said that IT was critical to delivering business plans, over one-third of respondents involved in designing or procuring government IT services rated their department’s capabilities in change leadership, innovative thinking and digital capability unsatisfactory or poor.
In recent years, the government has sought to improve the digital and commercial skills of civil servants, and in January 2015 the Cabinet Office announced its intention to create a new internal digital and technology department to push forward the digital-first agenda across the civil service.
However, techUK's chief executive Julian David said that the survey’s findings suggest that the civil service’s digital capabilities are still lacking.
“Technology has a key role in helping government deliver more for less and it’s great to see such widespread acknowledgement of the benefits technology has to offer,” he said, adding: “However, these results show that there is a greater need for better engagement with industry, better information and more innovation in order to truly transform our public services.”
The survey also found that despite the government’s pledge to ensure more small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have access to government contracts, 33% of respondents were not sure if their department would procure more services from SMEs, while only 19% of respondents said they engaged with different suppliers.
David added: “Government has a vital role as a purchaser to support the growth of small businesses and the wider digital economy. Creating a level playing field is critical to delivering more value for the taxpayer."