IT suppliers' organisation Intellect has called on the UK government to set clear targets and appoint responsible officers to ensure that its plans for increasing shared services across the public sector can be met.
The Transformational Government strategy launched last year by the Cabinet Office stresses the importance of shared services to deliver efficiency gains.
But a series of plans for shared services in different areas of the public sector, published in January, showed the overall timetable had already slipped back five years and there was a wide variation in the progress of different government departments.
Intellect has now published a paper detailing the steps it believes the government should by the end of this year if it is to deliver on its shared services pledges. The document draws on experience of the private sector, where companies such as BAA, Rolls Royce and BP have established shared back-office services.
The government's vision is bold, but requires "sustained commitment and leadership to succeed", the paper says. It urges the government to develop a shared corporate services route map and ensure the departmental and sector plans are aligned with it, put governance structures and responsible officers in place and establish targets.
It also recommends that any initiatives that are "not consistent with the ultimate vision" should be "stopped".
Rebecca George, chair of Intellect's shared services working group, said: "In 2007 we should see shared services in the public sector begin to transfer from theory to practice. The priorities we have outlined in our report are fundamental to the development of the shared service model.
"Industry has a great deal of experience in the implementation of such services in the private sector, which is highly relevant to the public sector. We would welcome the opportunity to be involved in the development of shared services policies to ensure the most successful outcome for both government and citizens."