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The National Computing Centre has launched an accreditation scheme for IT departments which it says they can use to defend themselves from cost-cutting...

The National Computing Centre has launched an accreditation scheme for IT departments which it says they can use to defend themselves from cost-cutting business managers in the downturn.

The professional body gave four IT departments accreditations today as it launched the scheme. Law firm Dickinson Dees, Lancashire Police Constabulary, Thameside Metropolitan Council, and North Wales Police were presented with their accreditations at the NCC annual conference in London today.

Michael Dean, director of advisory services at the NCC, said IT departments could use the accreditation to justify themselves when business managers were asking them to make cut-backs.

"IT departments are being squeezed on cost," he said. "And they are being challenged to do more with less. But if you are in the IT department and doing a good job, how do you demonstrate that?"

Under the scheme, IT directors perform a self-assessment, followed by a one-day audit by the NCC and an action plan for improvements and annual check-ups.

Geoff Bradley, IT director for the North Wales police force, said the NCC assessment may have only taken one day, but his department spent three weeks preparing the evidence to show it met the standards set by the accreditation.

John Shemilt, deputy IT director at Imperial College, said his department was planning to seek an NCC accreditation because it would be useful to have an outside assessment of its performance. "We spend a lot of taxpayers' money. We must make sure we spend it wisely," he said.

Emma Carruthers, service improvement manager at the Lancashire Police Constabulary, said it could use the accreditation for promoting the constabulary's IT services to other police forces.

Phill Everson, head of IT effectiveness at Deloitte, said IT executives felt embattled. A Deloitte survey found that 55% of CIOs are "unclear about what they should be doing" and 71% of business executives felt the same way about CIOs.

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