How government’s SME relationship should smell

Since I started dxw a few years ago, surprisingly little has changed in the way that we contract with Government. Now that the Government Digital Service┬áhas thoroughly arrived on the scene, I thought it might be a good time to write something about how I think contracting for digital ought to work. Or perhaps more accurately, how it should smell. I’ve never worked as a civil servant, and I’m not a legal expert. The only experience I have of procurement is that of a small supplier to Government trying to get things done. So, this post is neither comprehensive, nor a solution. More a statement of principle. There are many problems with the contracts under which Government currently works with SMEs (at least, all the ones I’ve seen). They’re too long. They’re not really being used for the purpose they were designed for. But, on a much more practical level, ...(Read More)

System Error: fixing the flaws in Government IT

A few months ago, I was interviewed by researchers from the Institute for Government, as part of their work on the report that arrived, embargoed, in my email yesterday. I’ve now had a chance to read it. I’ve heard a number of opinions on the project over the last few months — I have to say, mostly not very complimentary ones — so I was glad to see what they finally decided. On the whole, I think it’s quite good, as far as it goes. It’s definitely saying the right kinds of things about the sort of change that’s needed: notably, choosing commodity options when they’re available, and using agile processes to innovate and develop bespoke solutions when they’re necessary. Good stuff. The report includes a now very-well-rehearsed explanation of the problems with government’s traditional approaches which is spot on, and some good recommendations for Government – it will be ...(Read More)