£316m IT savings ‘a good start’, says NAO report

Current efforts by government to cut down on IT spending, which have resulted in the saving of £316 million, have been praised as “a good start”, according to a report.
An assessment of the impact of government’s ICT savings initiatives, published by the National Audit Office (NAO), said the estimated £316 million saved by government on IT during 2011-12 is a sign that its initiatives are “starting to work”. In the past few months it has saved an additional £410 million and it expects to save a further £200 million by March.

The NAO added, however, that while costs appear to have come down, there is insufficient evidence to show that it has made progress on other objectives, such as increasing the role of SMEs and adopting more innovative solutions. It said that so far, the government had not published details of the wider results of its initiatives and there was insufficient data showing how many SMEs had been contracted.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Cabinet Office has made a good start on reducing spending on ICT by departments. However, it needs to develop a more comprehensive assessment of the impact and effectiveness of its ICT and procurement reform initiatives.”

The Cabinet Office welcomed the NAO endorsement on savings and admitted there is more work to do. A spokesman said: “We must accelerate the pace of change. That’s why we are determined to fully open up government ICT to smaller, more innovative companies, and to embrace open source technology.”

Billy D’Arcy, managing director, O2 Public Sector, stated: “These savings should be commended but there’s still a long way to go before the UK realises the true potential of digital public services. It’s true a one-size-fits-all approach to procurement no longer cuts it and digital services are constantly evolving, so any investment must be appropriate for a modern civil service where mobility, connectivity and speed are the order of the day.

“But it’s also important to remember that digital innovation isn’t just about products and services, it’s about inspiring change and introducing new ways of doing things. Whether it’s policies and devices to empower staff to work more flexibly, or a mobile app that makes it easier for police forces to engage with their local community, Government and businesses need to work closely together to make sure that Britain’s public services are fit for the digital future.”

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