Headlines: September 29th, 2005

Public bodies are lagging behind private business in the integration of Information Technology into its core activities, according to a study by Mercury Interactive Corporation among skilled IT personnel. The result is that the public sector is failing to learn from the tough IT lessons suffered by the private sector.Mercury, a leading organisation in business technology optimisation found the private sector was making best use of technology to improve business performance and address investment errors made during the 1990s technology boom, but government IT initiatives were only just starting to do so. Seven out of ten private sector professionals thought IT was now well integrated into their core business but only 34 per cent of public sector professionals shared that view.

IT staff in both sectors shared views on the reasons for project failures, although those working in private companies held management more responsible. In the private sector the second biggest reason for failure was seen as projects not being aligned with business goals, while in the public sector it was believed to be a lack of visibility across all current and planned projects pointing to an inability to oversee spending and resources.

Andrew Smith, head of public sector for Mercury UK, said the findings would make IT professionals and senior management in both sectors draw a sharp breath. IT investments, by shareholders and taxpayers had to be well governed for the long term. “This study shows lessons need to be learned if public sector IT projects are to deliver on their goals avoiding the mistakes some high-profile private enterprises have made,” he added.

Only 14 per cent of the public sector personnel thought they had enough resources to deliver on IT’s promises to the organisation compared to just over half their opposite numbers in business. More than nine out of ten of those working in the public sector also felt their salaries were lower and just 42 per cent thought their job recognition and satisfaction was better.

The study was carried out for Mercury by Vanson Bourne, which questioned a random sample of 102 senior public and private sector IT personnel across the UK during August.