McClelland review of ICT infrastructure in the public sector: our response

Our response to the McClelland review of public sector information and communication technology infrastructure.

McClelland Report: Findings, Recommendations and Implementation

Background and remit

In February 2010, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth commissioned John McClelland CBE to undertake a detailed review of the use and strategic management of information and communications technology within the public sector in Scotland.

The remit for the report was:-

The overall purpose is to review the strategic management of investment in Scottish public sector information and communication technology ( ICT) infrastructure, reporting on how best to deliver improved value for money and support multi-agency working and shared services.

The review's remit also included:

  • Describing a future vision for the Scottish public sector ICT infrastructure.
  • Engagement across the public sector in Scotland at a senior-level to establish sources of data available to determine what we have, what we should ideally have, and how to bridge the gap.
  • Mapping the current landscape, identifying key issues, and opportunities for quick wins.
  • Making proposals for a strategy for change comparing the present position to the identified future state.
  • Addressing issues in governance and current ways of working, if appropriate, which will ensure that visible progress is made, having due regard for efficiency, economy and effectiveness, and also any existing investment plans by public sector organisations.

Key Findings

Mr McClelland submitted his final report to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in June 2011.

The key finding of the report was that the public sector is lagging where it should be and there is an opportunity to capture a multiplicity of benefits in radically changing how ICT is adopted and deployed and in how it enhances access to and improvements in the quality and value of services. Shared ICT platforms, a connection and spread of exemplar projects and enhanced engagement with the industry would reduce the proportion of cost invested in ICT by individual organisations and deliver local savings which might be partially reinvested in advancing the progress of ICT. It would also open the door to significant additional and wider savings in public sector costs by providing a platform for the operation of other shared services and better support sustainability goals.

The public sector should recognise that in the current economic environment a largely standalone and "self-sufficient" operating mode is no longer affordable and should commit to an era of sharing in ICT that will not only offer better value, but also still meet the needs of individual organisations and their customers.

The report then goes on to emphasise the following key points:-

  • ICT adoption is progressing but still lagging where it should be.
  • There are many outstanding exemplars and much progress can be made through a strategy of extending adoption of the practices and sunk investments executed by these exemplars.
  • The use of ICT is not yet pervasive in the delivery of services and online access to services is still limited.
  • Deployment is far from optimum and there is insufficient sharing.
  • The standalone self-sufficient operating mode for ICT needs to be discontinued.
  • Fragmented operating practices and structures are adding significant unnecessary cost.
  • Procurement, commissioning and engagement with the industry are inadequately performed.
  • Sustainability impacts and opportunities are not fully addressed.
  • Lack of "oversight and governance" is a key reason for the current status.
  • A complete paradigm change is required.

The report concludes that if the recommendations from the review are implemented savings in ICT investments can start in 2012/13 and grow progressively over five years to between £230m to £300m per annum, with a cumulative saving over five years of from £870m up to £1bn. It should be noted that this assessment excludes any further savings from shared services in other business operations which are facilitated through this transformation in ICT.

While the report sets out a challenging agenda for change, it also acknowledged that there are exemplars in the way ICT has been deployed and managed to be found across the public sector in Scotland. Building upon these exemplars, linking the 'islands of excellence', is a key goal in taking this work forward.


While the main thrust of the McClelland report focused on the more technical aspects of the way ICT infrastructure is procured and managed, it also emphasises the increasingly important role that the use of technology is playing, and will in future play, in the lives of citizens. Scotland's Digital Future - A Strategy for Scotland [2], published in March 2011, acknowledged the transforming role that digital technologies could have for the digital economy and for the delivery of public services. It also emphasised the need to ensure that all parts of Scotland and all citizens can take full advantage of the digital revolution. To achieve that we need enabling infrastructure that provides, and can keep apace with, the latest technological developments. In other words, the provision of ICT infrastructure is a means to an end, and often that end will be the direct provision of public services to end users. There is therefore a very clear connection between the McClelland report and the Scottish Government's Scottish Digital Futures Strategy.

This paper sets out the activities that are in hand or under development, to implement the McClelland recommendations and how these are being taken forward in step with implementing the relevant recommendations in the Digital Strategy. The focus in this paper is on the early actions that are being taken. Full implementation of the report's recommendations will be delivered over the medium term, and this early implementation plan will therefore be developed and extended as we engage further with our partners.

This paper sets out our plans in each of the following areas:

  • Resourcing
  • Governance
  • Developing National and Sectoral ICT Strategies
  • Broadband
  • Transformation and Digital Public Services
  • Procurement and the ICT Industry


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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