05 June 2003 | Robin Parker
The UK is way ahead of other countries in its approach to outsourcing government contracts, a report claims.
Global consultancy Accenture says complex IT deals and private finance initiative projects have put Britain ahead of its nearest rivals in the US and Canada.
The UK's "visionary" approach set the government on the path to outsourcing more critical functions such as procurement and human resources.
In its report, Outsourcing in Government: Pathways to Value, Accenture cited National Savings and Investment's 10-year partnership with Siemens Business Services, which has so far saved £176 million, as a model example of the UK's efforts.
The study of governments in 23 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and North and South America found they outsourced largely to improve the speed or quality of services rather than purely to cut costs.
Half of the respondents who said they outsourced to cut costs were failing to do so. The report noted that those trying the more radical objective of transforming their agency's operations were more successful.
While IT infrastructure is the most popular area for outsourcing, the report noted a growing trend towards business processing outsourcing, which accounted for two-thirds of successful transformations.
Steve Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture's global government practice, said governmental approaches to outsourcing processes such as supply chain management and procurement are maturing.
"As governments become more experienced with outsourcing, they seek new ways to derive greater value from these arrangements," he said.