Editorial

Digital public services still shackled by legacy IT

Almost a fifth of UK citizens have a more positive view of public service delivery since onset of the pandemic but many are still not confident in government’s ability to deploy emerging technology, says Civica and techUK

Posted 11 December 2020 by

New research has found that almost 20 percent of surveyed citizens have a more positive view of public service delivery since the onset of the pandemic, with 21 percent using digital public services more. Additionally, 44 percent of citizens believe public services make good use of digital technology to enhance their lives.

However, they believe it could be improved more. The report by techUK and Civica shows that while government has moved to implement new solutions to support the public over the last few months, 41 percent of people are still not confident in government’s ability to deploy emerging technology.

“The ongoing crisis has emphasised the need to address long-term issues, including legacy IT,” said Henry Rex, associate director, government and health, techUK.

“Only then can we open the door to further innovation. Legacy systems command significant resources, representing about half of central government IT spend. Too often short-term decision-making has left many organisations paying for outdated, unreliable infrastructure, which hinder innovation and can pose a security risk. If we can make real progress in addressing this issue, we will set the UK up very well for the next great leap forward in public service transformation over the coming decade.”

This security risk has a real impact on public views of service delivery. More than a third (36 percent) of citizens had concerns around data sharing from the Government or public service providers.

Public service leaders must “grasp the opportunity” ahead

From the January 1, 2021, the UK will no longer be bound to EU procurement regulations. Civica claims this is an opportunity for a major overhaul of how government bodies procure and secure goods and services.

“The next six months will bring a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape how government acquires technology,” said Sean Massey, managing director, central government, Civica.

“This comes at a point when addressing legacy investments, modernising existing IT estates and tackling technical debt is critical. Now is the time to build the foundations, to set a future-proofed baseline. In doing this, we can drive more innovative public services. By providing more modernised platforms and technologies that are easier to adopt, maintain and use allows departments to focus time and investment on the digital service improvements that citizens are calling for.”