The moment that Scotland becomes an independent country will be the moment that it takes responsibility for a large proportion of the IT systems currently being used to administer not only devolved government departments but reserved ones as well. Many of these IT systems will be difficult to transfer to Scottish control or may be badly outdated or simply unsuited for their role within the new Scottish state, particularly if Scotland chooses to diverge its policies from those of the UK at present. Independence offers the opportunity to re-assess the needs of Scotland with regard to government IT systems and how they may benefit Scotland.
This paper examines several areas of government IT and produces a timetable and cost estimate for the transition to independence.
― Several important areas of Scottish governance, like the NHS, Local Government, and Police and Fire Services, are already devolved. However, other areas like most tax collection, borders and customs, and foreign affairs, are mostly reserved areas and would need to new IT systems established upon independence.
― A tentative estimate of the total cost to build new IT systems for all required areas has been identified at around £1,250 million to be spent over a three year independence transition period. This is comparable to the budgets being identified to reform and upgrade current government IT systems within Scotland in recent years.
― A well designed IT system will aid in quickly recouping this investment in the form of revenue from the customs agency and central bank.