NAO praises government ICT savings

23 January 2013

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23 January 2013 | Adam Leach

The government has made a “good start” reducing IT costs but needs to provide more evidence it’s opening up the market to smaller suppliers, a report has said.

An assessment of the impact of government’s ICT savings initiatives, published today 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.”

The NAO took evidence from suppliers who accused government of being too focused on cutting costs and not enough on identifying innovative solutions. Government input said suppliers were reluctant to change.

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