I attended the second CIO Networking Event, chaired by John Suffolk – the Government CIO – at Central Hall, Westminster . It was a worthwhile catch-up and the agenda set through the CIO Council is certainly becoming more focussed, and there is, finally, a sense that all of Government is becoming truly committed to the transformation programme.

However, I still feel patronised by some of the generalisations, and resent constantly going over old ground. There were workshops on "Tell us Once", for example, which is initially focussing on bereavement; there have been several previous projects in this area, and we've known about some of the core issues for 10 years, or more – I just hope the project will really be listening and learning, this time.

John said something to the effect of "local government is ahead of other government professions in shared services because it outsources a lot". My own view is there is a fundamental misunderstanding, here - most organisations out-source from a position of weakness, which is entirely the wrong way 'round, and it they improve at all, it's too a mediocre level!

The Public Sector Flex initiative for establishing best value was presented. I'm very interested in this as it appears to enable the benchmarking of a "seat" per ICT work-station, encompassing whole life costs, rather than irrelevancies such as the cost of tin (which the Audit Commission still says we should benchmark).

Our own contract with HP was developed on that basis four years ago, but we've struggled to find someone to benchmark against as most other organisations have not yet made the leap. Someone said that the annual cost per seat of HMRC infrastructure based on its Flex contract with Fujitsu is £900, but I don't think that can be right, as it seems far too high. Hopefully, 'though, all such comparator figures will soon be put in the public domain.