The UK government may have to spend up to £244 million in order to revitalise its lagging IT department in the face of Brexit. According to the National Audit Office, the government will have to spend £145 million on 2,000 digital staff, or up to £244 million on contractors in order to account for its IT failings.
The new report ‘Capability in the Civil Service’, details that government has reduced the civil service by 26% since 2006 and slashed budgets. Despite this departments have experienced a steadily increasing workload, particularly in digital projects and the upcoming exit from the European Union.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “The civil service is facing ever-increasing challenges. The work of government is becoming more technical, continuing budgetary restraint is putting pressure on departments and the decision to leave the EU means government will have to develop new skills and take on work previously done by others.”
The National Audit office said that departments are well aware of their lack of specialist skills and are taking steps to rectify it by hiring specialists and contractors, though they require a much greater interest in planning.
Department reports reveal that they would need an additional 2,000 staff members over the next five years have been called an underestimate by those responsible for the governments digital skills.
Morse said: “Government has gaps in its capability and knows it must do more to develop the skills it needs. It is making plans to do so but scale of the challenge ahead means greater urgency is needed. Without a short-term solution to its capability gaps government must get better at planning and prioritising its activities and be prepared to stop work on those it is not confident it has the capability to deliver.”
The Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood described Brexit as ‘the biggest, most complex challenge facing the civil service in our peacetime history.”
Currently, the Government Digital Service hopes to train 3,000 people a year in its digital skills academy to face the coming challenges.