Still too much waste in local government IT, says Socitm

Socitm president Jos Creese has said there is still “plenty of scope” for local authorities to improve their IT efficiency.

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Socitm president Jos Creese has said there is still “plenty of scope” for local authorities to improve their IT efficiency.

Speaking at today’s Public Sector Efficiency Expo in London, Creese said councils could find greater economies of scale and share services more effectively, as they strive to meet budget cuts.

“We have too many IT contracts out there,” he said. “There is overlap, and deals that could be similar instead have different terms of service.”

Creese said that a “naivety” among the government's deal makers had led to “too much control in the hands of suppliers”.

In future, he said, there was scope for councils to review their arrangements and collaborate better on sharing front and back office services.

“There is every reason to join up systems at a local level,” he said. “It produces economies of scale and much better ways of working. The trick is how we get there and the pace of change, and that is what has to be decided by each authority carefully.”

There was also room for councils to improve their remote working arrangements in order to aid efficiency, he said. “We’re not doing enough of this in the public sector, even though it’s become standard practice in a lot of large companies.

“There’s always the chance for employees to work at home and use their own PCs. Security and control concerns have been stopping this, but really we need to find a way round it.”

The comments were echoed at the event by CBI director general John Cridland, who advocated radical change in the public sector's ways of working. He said: “Shared services and better procurement could all be a given. Financial cuts are not easy for anyone, and people have to take responsibility for improving services if things are to change.”

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