Outsourcing: Westminster Council IT infrastructure free by 2015

Westminster City Council will be infrastructure-free by 2015, having completed the outsourcing of all IT services.

Westminster City Council will be infrastructure-free by 2015, after completing the outsourcing of all its IT services.

CIO David Wilde said the council plans to transfer all its IT services to suppliers, who will also be responsible for day-to-day IT management. The council IT department will be left with a need for more project management skills and a "strong strategic arm".

Wilde said that cost cutting is not the main reason for the strategy. "It's not just about reducing costs, it's about getting more value for the same money," he said. "It's very easy to run an aggressive procurement exercise and go for the lowest cost - it doesn't mean that you then get the best service."

He said infrastructure-free environments are the future for many of the public sector organisations.

"A lot of local authorities have gone part-way down this road, but I'm not aware of any that have gone completely infrastructure-free. Even those with big 10-year deals are still hybrid, and manage some IT internally."

The move means different, "broader" skills will be required in the council IT department, according to Wilde. He said it is too early to know if there will be job losses. Staff will need to retain some technical expertise, and have commissioning and project management skills as well.

"It means quite a big skills change for IT staff. They'll need to know how contracts work and how supplier management works. We need to retain some technical expertise so we can be an intelligent customer. Staff will need to be extremely well-informed."

The aim of the Westminister project is to increase efficiency, transfer risk, get better quality of service and increase flexibility.

Wilde said, "Major legislative changes are having a massive impact on the technology we use to deliver services. Moving to an infrastructure free environment should mean the supply side should be much more agile and can deal with these changes more quickly."

One example, he said, is the Integrated Children's Service, which required local authorities to overhaul the way social services manage individual cases.

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