Government plans IT ‘skunk works’

Cabinet Office strategy document reveals plan for a flexible task force to improve IT projects, plus increased power for government CIO

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The UK government’s Cabinet Office plans to create a so-called ‘skunk works’ team to develop better ways to manage IT projects.

The proposal was revealed in a strategy document published this week, entitled the ‘Structural Reform Plan’, which proposes a number of IT-related reforms.

These include extending the power of the government’s CIO in order to “drive the integration and improve value for money of ICT infrastructure”, and to lay the foundations of “a common ICT infrastructure”.

The ‘skunk works’ plan falls under the heading of “new processes for commissioning and running IT projects and services”, which also includes plans to “establish government wide open standards (including those relating to security)” and to “create [a] level playing field for open source software and consider government cloud computing”.

Ian Osbourne, director of Intellect’s digital systems knowledge transfer network, revealed at Information Age’s Future of the Data Centre conference yesterday that the project to build a shared cloud infrastructure for all government departments – the G-Cloud – is dependent on the new government’s spending plans.  

Indeed, the Structural Reform Plan states that all proposals are subject to a spending review to take place in the autumn.

The term ‘skunk works’ is used to describe an autonomous team or project that operates outside an organisation’s established structure. It was coined by US engineering company Lockheed Martin to describe its practice of developing fighter jets rapidly and with no formal contract in place.