The number of IT staff in the public sector was slashed by the largest amount in 25 years in 2011, losing 5,000 employees.
According to research from the body for public sector IT professionals, Socitm, spending on contract and shared services increased over 2011, resulting in a total of 22,000 IT staff, an 18.5% fall compared with 2010.
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More authorities are turning to technology to mitigate dramatically reduced budgets, according to the body’s annual research into IT trends in local public services.
The top two organisational efficiency programmes being pursued are shared services and self-service. Other key initiatives include remote working, virtualisation and document management, Socitm said.
Socitm president Glyn Evans said: “The influence of ICT continues to rise as more services are directly delivered through lower-cost ICT-assisted channels. Technology is also helping reduce accommodation costs as the workforce becomes more mobile. However, with greater dependence on ICT, organisations must ensure processes and procedures are kept up to date, and greater attention is paid to accuracy, provenance and security of information. These are key areas in which Socitm can offer guidance and advice.”
Bring your own device polices are also becoming more popular in local government. Three years ago this idea was being fiercely resisted by the IT community, said the report. But now more than 90% of respondents say they are happy to allow the workforce to use their home PC to carry out work functions, with 60% allowing the use of the employee’s laptop and 30% the use of smartphones.
Local public service providers also plan to use a wide range of new service models in the delivery of ICT services. Unified communications, the public services network and software as a service are the most popular choices.
Cloud, G-cloud and utility computing feature in plans, but are perhaps regarded as less mature at present.
Developing web-delivered services and information governance are among the key strategies within IT departments, Socitm said.