Conservative party leader, David Cameron promised today that if his party was elected there would be no more IT projects “like Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer”.
Addressing the National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts in London yesterday, Cameron attacked the Labour Party’s commitment to large scale, centralised systems.
“The basic reason for the problems [in government IT programmes] is Labour’s addiction to the mainframe model -large, centralised systems for the management of information.
“From the NHS computer to the new Child Support Agency, they rely on ‘closed’ IT systems that reduce competitive pressures and lead to higher risks and higher costs,” he said.
If his party was elected, he said, it would take a different approach to government IT projects such as the National Programme for IT.
“We will follow private sector best practice which is to introduce ‘open standards’ that enables IT contracts to be split up into modular components. So never again could there be projects like Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer.”
“And we will create a level playing field for open source software in IT procurement and open up the procurement system to small and innovative companies,” he added.
He referred to open-source specialists Linux, as an example of how ‘information liberation’ could be beneficial in the new economy.
“We’re going to move from a top-down system to a bottom-up one. Where money follows the needs and wishes of individuals and the users of services – not the priorities of the bureaucracy.
“Where we don’t ask, where does the voluntary sector fit in? – but rather: where doesn’t the voluntary sector fit in? Where we in government concentrate on the results that public services deliver, not prescribe the processes they have to follow,” he said.
The speech was wide-ranging speech including discussion on innovation and Conservative party policies to set public data free.
Concluding, he said: “I passionately believe that if we are to take on and beat the great challenges of our time, we need the culture of public policy-making to have innovation at its heart. That’s the way to get the best results. And that’s the way to get value for taxpayers’ money.”