Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Only 10 more shopping days to the Autumn Statement 2013

5 December 2012, HM Treasury, Autumn Statement 2012, p.58, para.2.9:
The recently published Digital Efficiency Report sets out how departments could save approximately £1.2 billion over the remainder of the current spending review period by continuing to move their transactional services online and become ‘digital by default’.
We have tried to make sense of the alleged savings made by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and their digital-by-default project at least twice before – in The savings to be expected from digital-by-default – a clarification and Cutting costs/making savings, and GDS's fantasy strategy – and failed both times.

When the Chancellor made his Autumn Statement a year ago we were still expecting GDS's identity assurance system to be "fully operational" by March 2013. It wasn't, it still isn't and, without identity assurance, digital-by-default can't start. Her Majesty's Treasury will therefore have received none of the £1.2 billion they were hoping for yet.

Our budget deficit in the UK is around £120 billion and the national debt is heading towards £1,500 billion by the time of the 2015 general election. £1.2 billion of savings would be appreciated, of course, but it's not a big number against that background.

Material savings are supposed to be made by digital-by-default when take-up reaches 82% according to GDS's Digital Efficiency Report, p.11. And when will that be? 11 or 12 years after digital-by-default starts, according to the graph on p.20. And when will digital-by-default start? No-one knows.

In 10 days time the Chancellor will make this year's Autumn Statement.

He is unlikely to complain about the lack of progress made towards the promised £1.2 billion. That wouldn't be politic.

At the present rate of GDS's progress, he would be imprudent to rely on any savings from digital-by-default in this spending round.

Expect the subject not to be mentioned this year.

2 comments:

OpnSrcCons said...

For what it's worth here's a reasonably complete picture of how the various incarnations of "digital by default" havw been making the same promises since 1996:

http://www.opensourceconsortium.org/content/view/220/89/

David Moss said...

That you very much for that comment, OpnSrcCons, it's a pleasure to hear from you again.

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