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The government's 2005 deadline for e-enabling services is no longer the main concern of IT managers in the public sector, according to a survey.

Although the deadline is still a concern for 70 per cent of IT managers, more than 80 per cent reckoned service improvement was more of an issue. The techies also reaffirmed a long standing love-affair with three-letter acronyms, citing BPM, CRM and SOA as their main investment priorities. (Tha's Business Process Management, Customer Relationship Management and AService Oriented Architecture, for anyone who was unsure.)

The research also revealed that most agencies are struggling to cope with massive amounts of regulatory change, including complying with the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act. A majority said that several times a year they would have to make significant changes to their policies due to new legislation or regulatory changes.

The research, commissioned by business rules software company ILOG, was conducted by Vanson Bourne among 100 public sector IT managers in the UK.

Pierre Clouin, director of public sector at ILOG, said it was significant that the e-government deadline was no longer top of the pile for many. He argued that this was partly because funding for IT will begin to drop off as the 2005 deadline comes and goes. "Now organisations need to focus on reducing costs and getting the most value out of the technology they already have."

Mike Davis of analyst house Butler Group said that in the public sector, justifying IT spend is now harder than ever. "Public sector organisations can't charge higher rates for premium services, so they are under pressure on costs across the board."

He went on to say that it was not surprising that BPM, CRM and SOA came out as top investment priorities: "IT managers often have conflicting priorities from central and local government, and need to find ways to work across all the different agencies." It isn't easy to integrate all these systems and share information, he argues, so systems that make that easier are bound to be popular, he said. ®

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