Week in government tech: Report highlights the hidden costs of legacy IT systems

The government is increasingly embracing digital to deliver services and interact with citizens -- but it's IT infrastructure may not be able to handle the shift according to the report from the National Audit Office. The NAO found that even government organisations with recently acquired assets may be using technology that doesn't reflect the best available systems -- or even the systems best aligned with an organizations' needs. Using legacy IT systems can have significant hidden costs in lost efficiency and lost effectiveness, the report finds.  "The risks of legacy ICT will increase over time as the gap between the system functionality and business need widens and the complexity of the systems and software increases," the report warns.

 The NAO has also warned that the UK's security skills shortage could cost the country £27 billion -- but UK GCHQ is looking to alleviate that problem with a new initiative designed to spot top talent in the field. The agency's Can You Find It challenge presents aspiring IT security pros with a series of tricky codes and clues -- and the very best of the participants may be offered a full-time position within the agency. "The twenty-first century is confronting us with online threats that are difficult and dangerous, so we want employees who have evolved with the ever-changing digital world and therefore have the right skills to combat these challenges. It's a puzzle but it's also a serious test – the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security," said Jane Jones GCHQ's head of resourcing.

 Registering to vote in the UK might be about to get much simpler -- thanks to a new data-matching initiative, according to the Cabinet Office. The system can compare a voter's registration record with other public sector databases and spot conflicts early, and could also allow online registration. In local tests, the system was able to get 78% of voters automatically registered, which could prove to be a boon in areas where registration is typically low. The system will roll out in stages in England, Wales and Scotland next year.

 Data-management is an increasingly important challenge for public sector organisations -- and the coming launch of Dynamics CRM Online could make that challenge easier, offering integrations with Skype, Yammer and Lync, as well as mobile CRM apps to enhance flexible working. A newly released 19-page preview guide offers a sneak peak at some of the features that will roll out in this falls release, as well as new capabilities coming in future releases.

Public sector organisations are under pressure to offer new services with fewer resources and some are turning to a shared services model to make the most of available resources -- but how can organisations make sure they new arrangements don't result in duplicated effort? Paul Bradbury suggest thinking about the return on investment of any solution from the outset, while keeping citizens engaged and working with trusted supplier to keep resources properly aligned. It's also worth looking how similar organisations elsewhere in the U.K. are tackling the same problems and using those models as a starting point.

What are some of your favourite examples of government collaborations? Share your story in the comments, or check out our case study page for some inspiring examples.

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