April is an odd month in both the life of a public sector software sales person and that of Government types. If like me, you have just finished the end of fiscal madness, there is the collective deep breath and shaking off of the post-end-of-year muzziness. It also offers us a wedding, Easter and InfoSec. And for the lucky ones, two relaxing weeks with the kids (an oxymoron if ever I heard one). Sitting in the relative calm of the eye of the storm, all the while waiting for everything to go mad again, offers us a moment for quiet contemplation.
So, the news tends to be slow. But as the days trickle by, a few things start to pop up. Two areas spring to mind. Firstly, there we have the NHS reforms. Andrew Lansley has taken a bit of a kicking over the proposed reforms to the NHS. And now we are pausing for reflection (or whatever the correct legislative phrase is) for two months. I am certain he was hoping it would die down. But no, it’s just given people time to re-tie their boot laces before giving the ball another jolly good hoof.
From the perspective of IA in the NHS, the whole thing worries me, simply because unless you are a total anorak expert (i.e. Sophos’s Jonathan Lee, 13 years man and boy in his role as NHS Sales Manager), it looks to be something of a muddle. Who owns the security now? Who owns it in the interim? What does the future hold? WHO EXACTLY IS IN CHARGE? And ongoing, how is the confusion going to manifest itself? I had a real example happen to me last week on this whole topic, which I can share.
Last year my daughter spent some time in hospital, and was looked after in a lovely way by the nurses. However, we weren’t totally happy with some of the treatment and its approach, and so asked to see the medical records. This in itself was something of a voyage, the office being hidden away and the staff seemingly unable to answer the phone. We asked for my daughter’s recent records from her recent ‘stay’ and received an acknowledgement letter telling us it would take 40 days. 43 days later a parcel turned up containing every note ever made on her (including ones from when she was happily bouncing around in amniotic fluid). And an invoice for some cash. Ummm. It’s late, it’s wrong and you never said you’d charge me.
This incident crosses loads of topics: records management, data retention, data protection, release of information and a records team that took 6 weeks to pull some files. And this is now, prior to any structural changes. What on earth will this look like when it’s in flux? And why was it all paper-based (we got sent stuff that was clearly photocopied). Where are the electronic records? WHO IS IN CHARGE?
In a similar way, the Cabinet Office appears to be a state to flux, with Andy Tait who looked after G-Cloud hot footing it to VM-Ware. There have been quite a few departures recently as the new people coming in at the top put their ideas and structure in place. With the general feedback and observations of the Government ICT Strategy being somewhat lukewarm, and all of us waiting with baited breath for the Government G-Cloud strategy document, it feels as if we are all just sitting around waiting for announcements. Is G-Cloud dead? If it is, what is happening to Government App Store? Who is owning it? (ahem) WHO IS IN CHARGE??
Personally I am longing for May. Not just because it will be warmer and wedding and chocolate-egg free, but because hopefully we shall start to have clarity on the structures and plans. Structures and plans offer people the ability to get on with matters, and I for one am all for that.