Bord Snip, the group charged with identifying up to €5.3bn in cost savings in the Irish public sector, has called for a 50pc reduction in external ICT spend by the civil service, shared ICT resources, and an ICT advisory group.
Shared services should be actively explored to reduce Government spending on technology, an Bord Snip said in its report published today. Around 1,300 staff work in ICT in the civil service, costing the country €65m a year.
In addition, the civil service spends just under €200m a year on external ICT resources such consultants, contractors and service providers, not to mention additional costs incurred on hardware, software, telecoms and training.
“Greater sharing of ICT facilities and services, commensurate with improvements in the skills and knowledge of ICT staff and recruitment of ICT specialists from the market, can lead to a considerable reduction in the current costs of ICT provision,” the group said.
It pointed out that the Government has already instructed a 50pc reduction in the use of external ICT resources and for plans to be written up to make each public body self-sufficient when it comes to ICT.
To make this happen, the group has identified opportunities for greater centralised shared approaches to ICT services and data-centre facilities.
It argues that the Department of Finance should spearhead these efforts, including email, file and print servicing, anti-virus services, anti-spam services, content filtering, office productivity, information repositories, payroll solutions and shared use of some of the existing computer centres of departments.
It also proposes each department of every public-sector office puts together an ICT skills map to identify opportunities to reskill and retrain existing ICT staff, redeploying staff from other administrative areas and plugging shortfalls by making judicious use of external recruitment of ICT specialists.
“Such recruitment should be subject to a demonstrable reduction in overall numbers in the ICT area in each organisation, and a demonstrable reduction in the overall expenditure on the use of external resources,” the report said.
The group has also urged that the Government consider setting up an IT Advisory Group made up of senior independent ICT practitioners from medium-to-large businesses in Ireland.
This would enable senior ICT policy-makers and operations managers in the civil service to network with and learn from peers in the private sector.
By John Kennedy