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Cost-cutting scheme is too complicated and will take too long to implement, say councils

Local authorities are lukewarm about central government plans to develop shared administration systems to cut costs.

Shared services are integral to plans to improve efficiency across the public sector and meet public spending commitments without raising taxes. But council IT leaders claim that time constraints and organisational complexity stand in the way of progress.

Building effective partnerships takes time, said Glyn Evans, assistant to the chief executive at Birmingham City Council.

“Local government is yet to be convinced about shared services ­ very few major projects have been set up so far,” said Evans.

“You cannot force people together who do not naturally work together, and partnerships take a while to develop.”

The reservations are also reflected in last week’s annual IT trends report from local authority user group Socitm.

Respondents rated shared services only fourth as a policy for improving efficiency, behind alternatives such as flexible working.

Central government planners have been wowed by management consultants, said Socitm report author John Serle.

“Private firms can raise capital more easily and change how they work faster,” he said.

“The speed at which partnerships are adopted by councils will be slower than anticipated and on a smaller scale.”

Local authorities claim shared services are not the only route to improved efficiency.

Westminster City Council is showing that costs can be cut in other ways, said interim head of IT Tony Glew.

“We are meeting our financial objectives, but we share with the private sector, not with other London boroughs,” he said.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Janie Davies

Quelle/Source: Computing, 10.01.2008

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