MoD Information Technology and Lessons for Acquisition
It is no secret that the MoD has had a long history of complicated, incompatible and costly IT systems that have resulted in real operational problems. When the MoD has an IT problem it means for example, stores failing to arrive in time for frontline users.
Software, networks, software, devices, software and networks!
This makes the MoD’s ICT capability so vitally important.
After a brief period with a ‘temp’ the MoD appointed Mike Stone as the new Chief Information Officer in May last year. If you look at Mike Stone’s Wiki page it is clear he has a deep well of experience from which to draw but what is so refreshing and gives me much hope is is willingness to shake things up. A few months into his new job he had defined an innovative programme and recognised all that was wrong with DII. In a blog post on the MoD’s site he said;
Last week I set out to those in Defence my vision for 2016 in which users will have information capabilities that are tailored to their mission, location and role, accessed at the right time, through a choice of devices over a cost effective, modern and adaptable infrastructure. For non-sensitive, everyday work we will adopt commercial standards and security arrangements. As proof of intent, and in order to deliver real benefits up front, I also announced details of 30 specific improvements that we will deliver between September 2014 and March 2015, including better access to the internet, quicker logon and logoff times, access to social media and more flexible mobility solutions using WiFi
Joining Mike Stone as CTO was Madhu Bhabuta, the former CIO of the UK Hydrographic Office.
The MoD has started to move to Office 365 and in conjunction with the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) started to look seriously at open source analytics, the key being open source.
Traditionally the MoD has been cautious of adopting emerging and unproved technologies. However, we need to adopt these freely available capabilities and services now,
Of course, words are easy, and anyone with any experience of these things would get a sense of Deja Vu, but what caught my eye a few years ago was a story in Computerworld about the latest IT initiative called ‘Defence as a Platform’ which is seeking to unify the overall IT architecture.
Are you bored yet?
OK OK, the point of the post.
In the article, Mike Stone described how he had not yet been able to achieve its aims because of cultural issues at the MoD.
Stone told techUK delegates he has not been able to achieve his aims as quickly as he wanted since joining the MOD in May 2014, largely as a result of “cultural torpor” within the department. He also pointed to restrictive procurement policies and a “lack of suitably qualified and experienced people” as factors holding back his ability to implement changes. He said 58 percent of ISS staff are aged over 45. “The way we’ve outsourced in the past means we have abrogated design.
Does any of this sound familiar; cultural torpor, restrictive policies, lack of skills and experience and the abrogation of design to outsourcers.
Exactly the kind of issues that have bedevilled DE&S, the lack of design and integration skills and experience within the department.
But what is Mike Stone doing about it; further market testing, further outsourcing and strategic partnerships?
I want to in-source a lot of capabilities to make us masters of our own destiny and stand up our own design authority, with an architectural direction of travel
The commercial world is moving back from outsourcing, realising the value of having expertise and experience in house.
The MoD’s CIO has realised it, wonder when the CDM will?