Headlines: November 3rd, 2005

The drive to share common services across central departments and other public bodies such as local councils has been boosted with the appointment of Ian Watmore as Shared Services Director in the Cabinet Office. The cross-government team, headed by David Myers, will promote shared services which will result in merging functions such as call centres, and human resource, finance and IT functions. There is a widespread belief that this form of merger will result in major efficiencies and large scale savings which can be re-directed to the front line.The Shared Services team is helping departments to develop pathfinder projects which challenge government organisations in the delivery of back office functions and which test elements of the shared services strategy. The key issues that have emerged so far include how to make collaboration across organisations and within families of organisations easier? And, how to make robust comparisons between insourcing and outsourcing?

The current Pathfinder Projects were selected specifically because they address some of the key issues and they include HR, Finance, insourcing and outsourcing, different sectors or groupings, and the wider public sector. The projects include HMRC shared services for Finance, HR and Procurement, DfT for HR and Finance shared services, and the Police assessing strategic options for delivering Gershon targets.

The shared services initiative is supported by the Prime Minister who said: “Within the public services we have to use technology to join up and share services rather than duplicate them. It is a simple fact that we are stronger and more effective when we work together than apart. It is also self evident that we will only be able to deliver the full benefits to customers that these new systems offer through using technology to integrate the process of government at the centre.”