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Government slammed over £600m spend on IT consultants

Jenny Williams

The government spent £600m on IT consultants and programming and project managers in 2010-11.

The latest report by the Committee of Public Accounts on central government's use of consultants and interim staff found spending on IT consultants and programming and project managers accounted for 60% of all consultancy costs, an increase from 50% in 2006-07.

In a statement, Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the committee, said this was the committee's highest concern and criticised spending on consultants over training in-house staff in core skills.

"We recognise it takes time to grow such skills but there should have been more progress after sixteen years," said Hodge.

Hodge warned cuts to training budgets to make short-term savings could lead to increased costs and poor value for money for the taxpayer in the long term. She also condemned the government's "stop-and-go" approach to using consultants.

Consultancy spending has fallen 46% in the first six months of 2010 11 since 2009-10, said the report. Currently any expenditure over £20,000 needs ministerial sign off, which limits a lot of consultancy work.

The report found the Department for Transport spends £70 on consultants for every £100 spent on staff costs.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in October KPMG's partner in charge of IT advisory, Bryan Cruickshank, said consultancies have grown fat off public sector work. But this will have to change, and the days of having 50 to 100 consultants onsite at a government department are over. He said that the amount consultancies charge in the future will have to be related to the benefits the customer gets.


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