Councils respond to lower budgets but user satisfaction down

Local authority IT departments are "responding well" to the twin challenges of doing more for less and playing a key role in transforming their organisations for an "austere future", says public sector IT managers' association Socitm.

But Socitm warned: "The tension between growing demand for ICT services, reflecting the role ICT is expected to play in transforming other services, has led to a decline in user satisfaction on almost every front".

Socitm has published its "Making do with less" report, which assesses the performance of council ICT departments in 2011 based on benchmarking.

The report identifies four priorities for ICT managers, which include protecting ICT’s budget share by promoting the role, achievements and credibility of the ICT function; and a focus on reducing total costs of ownership.

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Council IT departments must also review insourcing versus outsourcing, said Socitm, as "long term outsourcing contracts can inhibit change, including the ability to exploit opportunities like cloud computing and shared services".

IT departments must also review information and technology strategies, as it is essential they support the corporate strategy.

With regard to outsourcing, the Socitm report says that benchmarking in advance of outsourcing "ensures that suppliers do not make excessive profits" by "making savings for the council before a contract is awarded.

Last month Socitm published research which showed that two-thirds of customer contacts with local authorities were now through digital channels, saving large amounts of money for councils.