Weak IT governance and a lack of tangible benefits from projects is leading to under-investment in IT, according to public sector IT managers group Socitm.
In 2009, public sector IT managers increased user satisfaction while reducing costs, but top-level management teams still appear to misunderstand the value of technology or doubt its ability to produce savings, said Socitm.
It said this was worrying because IT will be central to most of the cost-cutting measures the public sector will be relying on in the coming months. Shared services, pervasive flexible working and e-procurement are all examples of cost-cutting projects that depend on IT.
IT spend has fallen by 19.3% in real terms since 2006, but Socitm said technology's cost-cutting potential should mean more money is invested in IT, not less.
"It seems that top management do not accept that argument, or doubt the ability of IT to deliver," Socitm said in its 2009 benchmarking summary. "Perhaps the weakness of IT governance, and in particular the benefits realisation regime, is to blame."
IT leaders must pay more attention to "project management rigour", and top-level management at each department or council should design the process for choosing which IT programmes to invest in.
"Service managers must take full responsibility for improving the business processes that they control," Socitm said. "ICT is a tool for improvement, and it is up to those service managers to get the best out of the investment."