Abstracts: April 28th, 2005

This report from the Society of IT Management and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, provides a frank assessment of public/private partnerships which will account for some £4bn of local authority ICT activity over the next few years. The survey of local councils uncovered contracts worth in excess of 122 million pounds per year, and an average value approaching 6 million pounds per year. With an average contract life of nearly seven and a half years, the survey covers nearly a billion pounds of work transferred from the public to the private sector, suggesting a total of nearly £4 billion across the sector as a whole.The report identifies good and bad approaches. Mistakes from real life partnership and outsourcing arrangements, which are presented anonymously, provide valuable learning experiences. Like real life marriage, the divorce rate is rising, and fewer contracts do actually last until ‘death do us part’. There are many arrangements labelled as ‘partnerships’ for purely for political expediency and are not partnerships in the true sense. The report emphasizes that partnerships do work, and many very successfully. But in order to work there must be a trusting relationship which requires care, effort and a good deal of ‘give and take’.

A marriage of convenience? A review of experiences from partnerships and outsourcing contracts, published by SOCTIM in association with Cipfa, is available at 175 pounds. It can be ordered from http://www.socitm.gov.uk/