Feeds

Finance watchdog warns about being 'seduced' by IT partnerships

Don't fall for smooth talk

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Audit Commission says councils must be not be "seduced by the warm language of partnerships".

Local government IT partnerships intended to overcome the drawbacks of traditional contracts, often fail to live up to expectations, an Audit Commission report (pdf) reveals.

In an examination of so-called strategic service delivery partnerships (SSPs), long term contracts through which councils buy services from a private sector supplier, the commission found that many SSPs have yet to generated all the intended benefits. These include greater flexibility, economies of scale, innovation and profit sharing.

The report, published yesterday, found that the scope of SSPs varies. Some bundle a range of different services together, for example back office services such as IT, human resources, or financial administration, alongside front line services such as revenues and benefits or other customer services.

Other partnerships focus on a single service area related to very specialist support service, including highways maintenance or school support.

Although some councils said they had benefited from investment in infrastructure, such as an upgraded IT system, others found it difficult to quantify the benefits arising from the SSP.

A key issue identified in the report is that technically complex services such as IT are less amenable to long term specification due to the pace of technological change.

The Audit Commission concludes that councils should enter into these complex partnerships only if they have the high level of expertise needed to get good value for public money, as circumstances change over a long time.

Commission chair Michael O'Higgins warned that all partnerships are risky and two out of every three fail. Local authorities "should not be seduced by the warm language of partnerships", he said.

"Robust option appraisal before being committed, designing flexibility into the arrangements and strong contract management from the start, are the vital ingredients for success."

Alongside its report, the Audit Commission published a framework aimed at helping local government to get better value for money by managing their existing partnerships more effectively, or by weighing the pros and cons of entering a new one.

The framework, which identifies issues that councils will need to consider at the initiation, procurement and contract management stages, draws on the experience of councils that have pioneered SSPs, as well as existing technical guidance.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
Google bags OBSCENELY LARGE Times Square ad space for New Year's
Choc Factory pays millions for whacking new digital screen
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!
They just think the current schemes are terrible
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.