Public sector too risk-averse, says Francis Maude

Francis Maude urges governments to act like start-ups at launch of D5 summit

Public sector IT is too risk-averse to innovate, warned Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude today.

The man charged with overseeing Whitehall's digital transformation has urged governments to imitate start-ups to progress and succeed, claiming the public sector avoids challenges.

Speaking as he marked the launch of the D5 digital nations group in London this morning, Maude said: "Too often there is a risk aversion within the public sector.

"People feel unable to try new things. Governments are very good at looking at new ideas and finding reasons not to do them.

"We must encourage people to experiment and take risks to find new and better ways of doing things, even if they don't always work. The greatest mistake is to never try anything new or to stick to something that doesn't work."

He suggested that public sector workers should adopt mantras associated with start-ups, like move fast and break things' and fail fast'.

The D5 summit sees the governments of the UK, South Korea, New Zealand, Estonia and Israel come together under the banner of the D5 digital nations group to focus on using digital innovation as a way to promote economic growth, improve internet connectivity and discuss the teaching of coding to cut the skills gap.

Representatives from the governments will spend the next two days meeting in various locations around London, including start-up hub Tech City in Shoreditch, to discuss the issues.

Maude said: "We're all searching for answers to the same basic question of how to harness digital technology to bring about better government.

"We all face similar challenges ageing populations, less money, rising consumer expectations.

"That's why it's so important that we get together to support each other, to discuss our experience and to spark ideas."

Skyscape, a security IT supplier listed on the cloud procurement framework G-Cloud, was on hand at the event to discuss the role of digital innovation in its history.

CEO Simon Hansford welcomed the D5 alliance, adding that government must build on the success of the G-Cloud, a framework designed to open up cloud contracts to smaller suppliers.

"There is still more work to do in educating and communicating the successes of the framework," he said, referring to his firm's survey of 153 MPs that found 34 per cent do not believe the framework has made it easier for SMBs to bid on public sector contracts.

"As a small business that has won significant public sector contracts through G-Cloud, we believe that better education regarding the many success stories of buyers and suppliers is needed."

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