The UK government is spending obscene amounts of money trying to maintain ancient, outdated computer systems which are unable to meet even the basic cybersecurity, or operational requirements of today, a report has claimed.
Organizing for Digital Deliver, a report recently released by the Cabinet Office, found that the UK government spends $6.5 billion a year on IT, of which $3.2 billion goes on keeping legacy systems afloat.
Some of these systems are allegedly three decades old, and in five years’ time, the cost of maintaining these systems could be as high as $30 billion.
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The report further claims that some of the digital services offered by the government “fail to meet even the minimum cybersecurity standards”.
Contemporary systems are data-oriented, allowing businesses to use numerous sources of data to improve their decision-making process. However, even when government agencies do have access to data - they can’t make use of it, due to the incompatibility of their legacy systems.
Barriers to civil service innovation
The Home Office, the biggest spender according to the report, relies on 12 legacy systems, despite multiple efforts to retire them. Data storage departments are “making little use of this data to influence action or decision-making,” the report added.
The inability to properly extract data from its computer systems is one of the UK government’s “greatest barriers” to civil service innovation, it said. Going forward, government departments launching new digital services should focus on having a “minimum loveable product”, or minimum viable product - worrying only about the product’s usability, and not its looks.
Finally, the government does not monitor the performance of its computer systems, despite a performance management system being installed back in 2012.
While Labour told the BBC the report shows Cabinet Office minister Michale Gove’s “incompetence and failure to deliver”, the Cabinet Office said it is working on reducing the government’s reliance on old tech.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.