UK public sector technology deficit is failing taxpayers

Independent research has revealed an urgent need to change the priorities guiding spending on IT and other digital projects. 

people having meeting on rectangular brown table

Some two-thirds (65%) of organisations across the public estate are focusing on technological transformation but have no overriding strategy in place. 

Beyond this, 71% of departments reported being unable to effectively gather, collate and manage data. Meanwhile, 68% aren’t confident they can safeguard information once they have it. The study, conducted by ArvatoConnect, was published this spring, just as multiple data breaches of national and local government databases, alongside the Electoral Commission, were targeted by hackers. 

Responses were taken from 200 user experience, IT, and change-focused decision-makers working across central and local governance, and also showed 83% were not asking for feedback from citizens. 87% had not trained employees in technology and processes, and 79% admitted they did not make sure users and staff were ‘buying in’ to changes, and 78% had no key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of their technology spend. 

Further to this, almost three-quarters admitted being led by what is available in terms of technological solutions, rather than the needs of end users. The results have been described as a ‘digital deficit’, with millions being spent on IT systems with little accountability or direction. 

‘While our research tells us that many public bodies are confident in delivering successful digital transformation projects and have such projects underway, this confidence may be misplaced,’ said James Towner, Chief Growth Officer at ArvatoConnect. ‘Transformation is critical to delivering better and greater value public services, but the programmes that are missing steps like gathering citizen and employee feedback and even setting KPIs is concerning.

‘Any transformation programme needs to be grounded in a clear understanding of the needs of the organisation, its customers or its citizens. Organisations mustn’t fall into the trap of spending time and money on developing solutions that are then left looking for a problem to ‘fix’,’ he continued. ‘Taking the time to get the basics right – and seeking the right support with digital transformation planning – will only generate better results over the long term.’


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