29th Jul 2011
Have you seen the coverage about the inflated prices the UK government pays for IT equipment and services? This week saw the publication of a select committee report “Government and IT – a recipe for rip-offs: time for a new approach” which concludes - well, let’s just say the title is a bit of a giveaway.
The section entitled An Intelligent Customer? (you have to love the person responsible for these titles) concludes that the root cause of many problems is the lack of skills in Government, whether for managing procurement, or thinking strategically about IT. There’s a telling quote from witness Professor Margetts, “HMRC took a decision a long time ago, in the early 1990s, to outsource everything—and I mean everything. All the expertise went over to the supplier, and a tiny proportion was spent on managing the contract compared with what the private sector would have done. We are seeing the consequences of that now.”
Work CIMA undertook in the UK public sector last year found that finance professionals lack influence in central government. They seem to be confined (actually as well as culturally) to traditional financial accounting and stewardship roles, and little used in other areas such as policy- or strategy-making. And apparently, IT procurement. For the management accountant, this is a sheer waste of their expertise, which for CIMA members at least includes relevant topics at both a managerial and a strategic level – including project appraisal, project management, risks and benefits of information systems and management of relationships such as those with IT contractors.
I’d be interested to hear from management accountants in the private sector who play an influential role in IT procurement so we can develop Professor M’s point.