Local government IT managers' group Socitm has advised local authorities not to set up separate programmes to meet the needs of the Gershon efficiency savings.
The treasury expects local councils to achieve 2.5% efficiency savings between 2005 and 2008, prompted by 2004’s Gershon report. This is a cornerstone of New Labour’s spending plans.
Effective transformation through IT will be essential to create the necessary efficiencies, Socitm says. However, its study of efficiency gains already made in three councils show “they have been tackled as strategic programmes of change for the whole organisation”, said the Socitm report, E is for efficiency – reaping the benefits of technology.
“They all show that the search for efficiency gains does not require the setting up of a separate new programme. Rather, changes focused on meeting the needs of customers and local communities will lead as a by-product to efficiency gains in service delivery.”
The Efficiency Review, however, can be used as a mechanism to select the right projects and prioritise work to achieve this transformation of local services, the report said.
“The objective is to challenge the way things are done, to release more resources into the front line and to improve the way that all local people are served. ICT is a means of achieving this aim. The investment has been made: it is now time to reap the benefits.”
Councils are already striving to meet the e-government deadline to get services online by the end of this year. Socitms’s report encourages councils to use these programmes to support business transformation through the councils to deliver greater efficiency.
The user group advises that councils can encourage the public to use online self-service options, streamline corporate and support services by using business process mapping, support new ways of mobile and tele-working and commit to e-procurement practices.