Govt skunkworks planned for November

Buried – inevitably – deep within a PDF file, the Cabinet Office has announced a start date of November 2010 for the ‘skunkworks’ team promised in the Conservatives’ technology manifesto.
But the Structural Reform Plan, reportedly the first of many to be published by government departments, says the skunkworks team’s role will be ‘to assess and develop faster ways of developing ICT’ – which, on the face of it, sounds like it’ll be more concerned with procedure than prototypes.
The Plan also points to the setting-up of a new Chief Information Officer’s office, and an increase in the power vested in the CIO role, by the end of August. There’s (yet) another repetition of the pledge to ‘create [a] level playing field for open source software’ – although as mentioned here previously, Francis Maude seems to have taken things a step or two beyond that commitment already, certainly where websites are concerned.
Additionally, there’s a rather vague pledge to ‘devise a government-wide strategy on digital engagement and enablement’, and a promise to ‘support departments to reduce costs of transactional services including putting more services online’.
Other than that, a lot of it is simply the formalisation of manifesto pledges – but it’s interesting to note some specifics in terms of target dates. The promise to put all tenders above £10,000 on a single free-of-charge website is due to be completed in September this year; and details of all spending above £25,000 will follow by November; but you may have to wait until 2013 for the ‘right to data’ to kick in.
And one more thing: the wording on the publication of details of those earning over £58,200 is somewhat watered down – in that it doesn’t explicitly mention the publication of people’s names. But I wouldn’t necessarily read anything into that: the PM did sign a letter which said ‘names, grades, job titles and annual pay rates’.