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The public sector in Europe spent £36bn a year on computer projects last year, said Kable researchers, who predicted this amount would increase by 4.6% per year up to 2002.
Across Europe, the public sector is spending £7.7bn on in-house IT staff and £1.9bn on outsourcing and managed services. The UK alone accounts for £1.25bn of this amount.
William Heath, chairman of Kable, said the UK was innovative in outsourcing government IT. However, "if other governments follow, then the UK will be seen as an early adopter. If the rest of Europe does not, then the government will be out on a limb," he added.
In 2000, European governments spent an average £93 per head a year on computerising public services. This figure varied from £31 in Greece and Portugal to £188 in Sweden and Denmark.
Kable predicted that Portugal would show the fastest growth in IT spending, increasing its investment by 20% between now and 2002. The lowest growth would be in Sweden, France and Germany.
The fastest growing public sectors for IT spend are set to be health and education, while the slowest will be defence, added Kable.
Last June, the European Union agreed to put public information and services online when they signed the e-Europe Action Plan. EU heads of government committed themselves to put public data online by the end of 2002 and to provide generalised electronic access to basic public services a year later.