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Scots set shared service target

Could save up to £750m a year

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The Scottish minister for finance and public service reform has forecast savings of between £250m and £750m per year across the public sector.

Tom McCabe made the forecast to mark the publication of a consultation on the shared services strategy, A shared approach to building a better Scotland.

He said sharing corporate support services and common business processes across the public sector could deliver significant savings and improve the quality of the services.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Executive told Government Computing News that the forecast is for an annual recurring figure, depending on how far the strategy has advanced. It is separate from the Whitehall shared services strategy, although many of its elements also take their lead from the Gershon review of 2004.

"We've been doing something like this on a different scale to England for some time now," the spokesperson said.

McCabe commented: "This new shared services strategy on which we are seeking views is a central plank of our Efficient Government initiative which aims to tackle bureaucracy and duplication in the public sector.

"This document sets out our proposals for taking forward shared services across Scotland. It has been developed in partnership with the public sector and the aim is for the strategy itself to be shared across the major delivery partners and the executive.

"Sharing general business support functions like payroll or human resource services has the potential to deliver real savings - as much as £750m a year is possible. This is only the start of the process of working with our external partners to build the broadest range of support."

The consultation is due to go on through in the second quarter of the year, with publication of the final strategy expected in the third quarter. Plans for the rest of the year include setting up a national ICT Council for Scotland, making arrangements for governance and coordination of projects, processing the second stage bids of the Efficient Government programme, and promoting national measures for benchmarking and baselining.

Going into next year, the executive plans to run some national ICT Pathfinder projects, award funding for Efficient Government programmes, and support change management and capacity building. Most of these are expected to run up to 2010.

Plans for local government include the development of a shared staff recruitment portal, the standardisation of business support systems, and the further development of systems for procurement, revenues and benefits, staff training, and support services.

Also on the schedule are shared human resources and training facilities for Scotland's four fire brigades, a national model for police operational systems, and a number of shared services for the Scottish NHS.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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