Stuart Monk - Fotolia
The Cabinet Office is embarking on a renewed push to encourage greater use of the shared services model in the civil service, saying the move will save taxpayers millions of pounds by 2028.
The newly launched Shared Services Strategy for Government programme is focused on helping the civil service achieve greater value for money from its IT systems by providing users with access to standardised human resources (HR), procurement, finance and payroll applications through a common platform.
With an emphasis on using cloud-based systems and automation, the setup is intended to make it easier for civil servants to move between departments, as the IT systems and services they need to do their jobs should be the same wherever they work.
Similar projects have previously seen the government come under fire from spending watchdogs for failing to achieve value for money, and for adding to the complexity of government IT systems.
Even so, the document claims more than half a million government employees are reaping the benefits of these past attempts to provide departments with access to back-office systems in a shared services model.
This time around, there are no precise figures being given for how much money the Cabinet Office hopes to save through the initiative, which is being overseen by its Government Shared Services Unit.
According to the government’s own projections, however, “millions” are liable to be saved over the course of the next 10 years through the move.
Savings will also come through encouraging competition between shared service providers, which will spur them on to constantly improve their technologies, the government said.
Read more about shared services in government
- The government aims to save £600m per year through its Next Generation Shared Services (NGSS) Strategic Plan, which the Cabinet Office has dubbed as “ambitious but not without risks”.
- The government’s shared service centres programme, which aims to provide back-office functions for up to 14 departments and their arm’s-length bodies, has been dogged by delays and increased costs.
Matthew Coats, interim head of government shared services and chief operating officer at the Ministry of Justice, said: “This will be step change in shared services across the government, directly supporting civil servants in their roles, while also contributing significant savings to the public purse.
“By allowing civil servants to spend less time doing administration, they can spend more time delivering vital services to the public,” he added.
Read more on IT for government and public sector
Government to hire 2,500 people for digital roles by 2025
AI and data experts to be brought into government through secondment programme
Government expects to save £1.8bn from back-office systems overhaul
Government departments need to better understand digital transformation or efforts will ‘peter out’