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The public sector IT professionals' association (Socitm) has said the sharp cuts in public spending will give IT a stronger role in public services

Socitm has released a statement following the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which cut central government funds by an average of 19 per cent and subsidies to local government by 26 per cent, claiming that there are positive features in the outlook.

"While the chancellor made no direct reference in his speech to IT, Socitm is encouraged by the emphasis in other statements and actions by the coalition government of its understanding of IT's potential to modernise public services," it said.

"The government's intention to devolve more to local public services and local government, in particular, presents an opportunity for a paradigm shift in local services delivery powered by ICT to achieve better, properly co-ordinated outcomes for residents and service users at significantly reduced cost."

The organisation said its members can help to develop and implement integrated and secure systems for place based budgets and deliver more personalised outcomes for the public.

Socitm also acknowledged the importance of focusing on essential rather than desirable business outcomes, and warned that fast returns on investment will be critical. "The five year business transformation model is dead," it added.

It emphasised the importance of effective portfolio and programme management, benefits realisation and executive ownership for delivering the outcomes. This requires that IT managers and chief information officers should be at the centre of reforms.

The organisation also explained that it will be possible to make big savings.

"We do believe that there are significant savings to be made in public sector ICT costs," it said. "Big government contracts have failed too frequently to deliver value, while overlapping technology infrastructures in different sectors and duplicated projects and poorly managed contracts simply add to the burden.

"More than ever, heads of ICT/CIOs will need to deliver more efficiencies in their own operations - sharing knowledge and learning with peers, using networks such as Socitm and working collaboratively with colleagues to join up ICT infrastructure and services locally."

It qualified this with a number of concerns, among them that ICT is seen as a cost to be cut rather than a tool to provide larger cuts, and that aspirations such as greener ICT could be squeezed out of public bodies' plans.

"We can't have the ICT cake and eat it," Socitm concluded. "We can't have ICT-enabled savings, as well as indiscriminately cutting the ICT budget."

This article was originally published Kable.

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