The Scottish Government is planning the creation of a Public Service Network (PSN) for Scotland as one of the key features of its strategy for ICT public sector infrastructure.
The plan is included in the Scottish Government Response to the McClelland Review, which was commissioned by the Department for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth and published in July.
The new document says the government is working out the optimum way of achieving a PSN for the country's public services in an effort to provide savings for the public sector, and that it can be created from existing commercial networks. While it does not mention the UK PSN which is being launched by the Cabinet Office, McClelland said a Scottish network should adopt the same standards and protocols, and should be used by every public sector body and university in Scotland.
While there is no precise timeframe, the move is part of a group of procurements planned for delivery by 2016. Others in the pipeline are a tender for the provision of web-conferencing services across the Scottish public sector, and another for mobile telephony services.
The report outlines a new governance structure created in response to McClelland's report and the Digital Strategy for Scotland. A Public Service Reform Board has been set up with responsibility for reform, ICT and digital public services, along with a Public Sector ICT Industry Board involving large suppliers and SMEs. The latter reports to the former and is aiming to identify suitably experienced people to contribute to specialised areas by November.
The strategy is linked closely to ambitions to increase the availability of high speed broadband throughout Scotland, and includes the development of a national broadband roll out plan with funding proposals by March 2012.
It also says that a mapping exercise on activity around digital public services is under way, and that the government is aiming to deliver an increasing proportion of services online. During 2012 it will consider a range of delivery mechanisms for digital services, launch a prototype of the DirectScot portal and seek feedback on how it should be further developed.
The document places a strong emphasis on increasing the use of existing infrastructure and services, such as the Glow national learning intranet for schools, the SCOTS ICT supply initiative and the Central Scottish Government Public Bodies Shared Services Site. In addition, it follows McClelland's recommendations that all aspects of the Customer First programme for digital services should be expanded in all areas.
In the foreword of the report, John Swinney, the cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth, says that during 2008-09 the Scottish public sector spent about £1.4bn on ICT and approximately £250m on staff, and that it is possible to reduce this by supplier engagement and sharing ICT requirements and support.
He adds: "Our approach to digital public services, and how we procure them, will act as a driver for achieving our wider digital ambitions for Scotland. We will seek to optimise those wider benefits in designing and procuring services, working in partnership with the industry and wider stakeholders to ensure that we can deliver shared outcomes and support our digital economy aims.
"We can no longer maintain a self-sufficiency mode in the financial climate. We must capitalise on good practice and spare capacity and we must stop duplication of effort."