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| 1 minute read

Government leaders lack experience to lead digital transformation, says NAO

The National Audit Office report on the challenges in implementing digital change in the public sector makes for interesting reading.

In it, the NAO said public bodies need to deliver high quality digital services as the country becomes more technology-savvy.

But the report identifies a "consistent pattern of underperformance" in digital programmes over the last 25 years.  They largely put this down to a lack of experience among senior decision-makers in digital business change, as well as an inability to balance difficult decisions around risk and opportunity in implementing technology solutions.  

We're at a point in time when the public sector is on the cusp of huge technology change. Some is mandated by political circumstances (Brexit, borders and geopolitical shifts) while some will be to harness emerging technologies (AI in healthcare, open data projects, digitisation of public services). This period of change makes it all the more important for government leaders to get their transformation projects right.  

We find that the cause of project failure is not usually the technology itself but more often found in the planning, governance, management and decision-making around its selection and implementation. Better leadership, training and experience-sharing in the public sector - and all sectors - is needed to improve the success-rate of large-scale digital transformation programmes.  

Despite 25 years of government strategies and countless attempts to deliver digital business change successfully, the findings of this report show a consistent pattern of underperformance. This underperformance can often be the result of programmes not being sufficiently thought through before key decisions on technology solutions are made.


it and digital, it disputes, technology