Headlines: November 29th, 2005

The Scottish Executive has joined forces with private enterprise to offer shared ICT services to all Scotland’s public agencies. The initiative – Scots Connect – is being seen as a possible first step in sharing support that could lead to big savings and change the running of the Scottish public sector.Scots Connect brings together the Executive and private sector partners Objective and LogicaCMG. They have developed ICT systems they believe are robust, reliable and suited to the needs of the public sector. The Executive’s Permanent Secretary John Elvidge said they now wanted public sector agencies to consider if the systems met their needs. By adopting them, he said, agencies could avoid costly work on developing their own ICT solutions.

“But sharing support services is not restricted to ICT. It can also be applied to other functions such as procurement, Human Resources and Finance,” he said and added, “It is a simple idea that can make a big impact. It offers a very real opportunity to deliver significant savings and overhaul the way we run the public sector in Scotland.”

Mr. Elvidge said examples from other parts of the UK and abroad and from both the public and private sectors, demonstrated that where shared services had been used savings of up to 30 per cent could be achieved and service delivery could be improved at the same time.

The services developed under Scots Connect are already available to more than 8,000 public servants across Scotland, over a third of whom are in agencies or non-departmental public bodies, including the General Register Office for Scotland, the Scottish Public Pensions Agency and Communities Scotland. A networked ICT product suitable for wider public sector use is under development. This is building on present solutions.

Mr. Elvidge said public agencies in Scotland needed to look seriously at the support services they needed and how these might be shared. “The current position is no longer sustainable. The Executive is producing a public sector wide strategy for Shared Support Services which we will be consulting on early next year. The development of solutions in Scotland is still at an early stage but the more people who contribute to the consultation the better the final result will be,” he said.