Because in my current incarnation to date I haven't clocked up nearly the number of mortal sins that would account for my I having to do such a large penance as to read - in detail - the new Government ICT Strategy.
For that is what I have just done.
It has certainly taught me a lesson for the future - I will mend my (multi-incarnated) ways. And as my first act of altruism, I will explain what is in it. So you don't have to read it.
So (drumroll) here is the Trees around Nunhead introduction to the:
Yes that is what it says. This is the BIG GOVERNMENT idea of Small. So big projects seem to be OK so long as they aren't really, really, really Ginormous.
Eighty million quid? Chickenfeed, off you go. Spend it all at once.
There is some vaguely sensible but hopelessly optimistic proposal for a common ICT Infrastructure for Government; removing silos, that kind of thing. The lifetime cost of which I suspect will prove to be well over £100m, but let's skip over that for the moment, Francis.
But the most tiresome, annoying and worrying aspect of this "strategy", and what I really object to, is that "they" seem to have been suckered in to embracing the latest, trendy jargon and ICT marketing hype along with the apparently practical.
It makes for strange reading:
To ensure that appropriate data is transparent and shared rather than duplicated, the Government will implement engagement processes for open data standards activity and crowd-source priority areas for data standardsCrowd-source? Have they any idea what that means - and what the weaknesses and strengths of that model are? Where it is best used, and where unhelpful?
I imagine they think its something like an opinion poll or focus group. Which it is, I suppose - I mean it is something like those things.
The Government will establish an approach and capabilities for agile delivery in government which can be replicated across departments (culture, multidisciplinary teams, risk-based testing, service-oriented architecture, product management and road-mapping)So that's all right then.
The word 'agile' has begun to make my skin crawl in sentences like this - because it has become almost content free.
Pardon my asking, but does this approach necessarily produce the best outcomes in, say, defence or health? On what evidence? Only asking... It's just that A level students are taught about this stuff, and what it is and isn't good for, so they could have asked one about it if they'd only thought.
The Government will create a ‘virtual’ centre of excellence across government and the private sector which can enable fast start-up and mobilisation for agile projectsOK. So they really mean the agile thing. Whatever it is.
The Government will identify a pilot project within each department to prove and embed the agile approach
This isn't necessarily reassuring.
And there is some Cloud stuff too:
To examine the benefits of delivering standardised desktop services using a cloud-based model, the Government will develop a desktop prototype for the cloudBut then, you have to say Cloud in strategies nowadays, don't you? So at least that's one box ticked.
To detail how services will shift to cloud-based technologies, the Government will publish a Cloud Computing Strategy with implementation plans
In fact, I began to believe that ticking boxes is what this is all about. The whole report boils down to some serious Government-sounding sentences peppered with enough random marketing hype to provide all the makings of a rich game of IT bollocks buzzword bingo.
Or at least so I thought before I came across this:
A Government Skunkworks has been established to develop low-cost, fast and agile ICT solutions. Skunkworks provides a new channel for SMEs and entrepreneurs to participate in government ICT with new and innovative solutions. Skunkworks is embedded into the spending approvals process which identifies where existing products can be reused or solutions developed in-house. Skunkworks is working to develop an environment for SMEs to test their solutions to ensure compatibility within government’s future standardised cloud environmentFinally the parody became obvious even to me. Skunkworks?
As with the spaghetti trees and the floating islands of San Serriffe, eventually the penny drops. It is of course a spoof, just published (on March 30th as near as I can work out) a couple or so days too early.
But why would that be? Why ruin a brilliant April Fool by putting it out in late March? Not by choice surely - and please tell me it isn't an IT cockup? That would just be too ironic.
You know, I think I know what happened. "They" hired one or two other people - 'industry experts' - to write this stuff. Who sent in a spoof, for a bit of a laugh, and "they" didn't realise it was a joke.
You can just imagine the scene in Francis Maude's office:
"If it's complete and ready to go then why don't we send it out now? No point in waiting to the end of the month if we can put it out early, is there? So let's just publish it shall we?"Still, it could have been worse. Imagine what an awful cockup they might have made if they'd tried to be serious about it...