A National Audit Office (NAO) report has revealed that over half of the ICT savings made by government are not sustainable, raising questions about the Cabinet Office’s savings target.
The department, through its Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), wants to cut annual costs by £20bn by 2014-2015.
Earlier this year, the NAO report examined Cabinet Office savings of £702m from IT reform, with published figures of £354m through spending controls and £348m through the renegotiation of contracts. However, the NAO was unable to validate the £348m figure.
But the NAO said many of the savings made will not continue.
“The one-off savings delivered to date are valuable and should be maximised but, unlike sustainable savings, they will not contribute to the 2014‑15 aspiration,” the report read.
“For example, of the ICT savings we assessed as meeting our criteria, only 46% are likely to recur indefinitely, 33% are likely to occur for more than one year; and the final 21% were savings only in the current year.”
The report also outlined shortages in skills within the ERG that could affect the part of the organisation attempting to cut ICT costs.
“Some parts of ERG, for example ICT and commercial models, reported difficulties in recruiting staff with the right experience,” it stated.
The government is addressing this in a number of ways, according to the report.
It said the ERG is using a flexible staffing approach, including secondments to and from the private sector, allocating staff for specific tasks, and using staff in other departments, with 448 people across government having worked on reviews by the Major Projects Authority.