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Liam Maxwell: Open standards and focus on inter-operability has opened the way to 'government as a platform'

Computing - "Government as a platform" will become the dominant approach to public-sector IT over the next few years - regardless of who wins the election next year, according to Liam Maxwell, chief technology officer at the Government Digital Service, and in charge of IT strategy across government.

That will coincide with a more active role for "IT leaders" as mega-outsourcing contracts draw to a close and are either brought in-house, or broken up to encourage greater competition and value-for-money - with the IT leaders recruited by Maxwell taking a more proactive role in directing IT, regardless of whether it is an in-house or outsourced IT activity.

"We are now going for 'government as a platform'," Maxwell told Computing. "There are so many things that have been siloed in the past. We had different case management systems, different identity systems, we had 392 websites that had nothing in common."

The drive towards open standards led by Maxwell will enable more and more cross-government IT platforms to emerge as old modes of delivering IT draw to a close and new systems are brought on-stream.

"We have got all of those different silos that we are turning into platforms. Not because we in the middle are saying so, but because it's possible - because we deal with open standards, because we focus on interoperability. That's because we have invested so much time into making sure that our departments can work together that we are now able to introduce more and more platform-based approaches," added Maxwell.

"So over the next three years, government as a platform is going to be the major theme for the whole of [central government] IT.