The Department for Transport's objective is to ensure Britain has a reliable and efficient transport network. The Department has a number of UK transport-related bodies and agencies in its responsibility, including the Driving Standards Agency, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the central Department itself all the way out to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
In the last 12 months the department has had a rough ride with criticism of its spending priorities, but has remained a constant believer in the power of technology to deliver change. A year ago MPs highlighted that the government had lost £273 million of tax payers funds in five years through shelving IT projects. Amongst those put in the waste bin was an £81 million project by the Department for Transport for an SAP based HR, payroll and finance shared service. The Public Accounts Committee described the Department for Transport as being guilty of "stupendous incompetence" because the project was meant to have made savings of £57 million. It was later discovered that the Department for Transport had not put the project to tender and that its agency the DVLA has a similar system.
On a positive note the department has instigated a plan for a nationwide smartcard for public transport travel. Like the Oyster card that is used in London the nationwide card will allow users to travel on a wide variety of public transport networks with one ticket. Using an open standard technology the national card will also allow travellers to pay via their mobile phones.
Also the Highways Agency is planning a major new traffic monitoring system.
The Agency has allocated up to £200 million to deploy and run the system, including data collection, information transfer onto central systems, traffic intelligence and analysis, and information links with the agency's customers and business partners.
The systems is part of a new National Traffic Information Service, which aims to improve the traffic data held by the agency, which is responsible for all large roads in England. The Highways Agency is part of the Department for Transport, and manages £75 billion worth of roads and traffic signals.