Denise McDonagh’s right (above) that public sector ICT has improved, but we still suffer from a literally Victorian-era public service infrastructure! Lots of stovepipe organisations doing often strikingly similar things (look at our 427 local government organisations, for example – all doing enthusiastically different versions of the same thing).
In a C21 public service infrastructure, technology will have disappeared into the looking-glass – sublimated from our consciousness since it will be everywhere and nowhere at the same time: working, interoperable, cheap. Instead, the emphasis will be all on the architecture: who understands platform/innovation dynamics? The Centre’s job will be to create the conditions and incentives for a lively, plural marketplace to innovate; the marketplace will innovate and compete; and public service organisations will stop wasting taxpayers’ money propping up ancient, crumbling castles.
When we have deverticalised our public service architecture, and stopped talking about the technology, we will know we have truly arrived in the C21. We remain so far from this it is frightening; but open standards and consumption-based procurement routes such as G-cloud are undoubtedly a much-needed baby-step in the right direction.