UK Government to cut IT budget by billions

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The UK government will slash its IT spending, in a bid for greater standardisation and simplification, according to Treasury advisor Martin Read.

The former chief executive of systems integrator LogicaCMG, now an advisor to the UK Treasury, has said the government will cut billions of pounds of IT spending in its Spring budget.

Speaking at the Government IT 09 conference in London, Treasury advisor Martin Read said that the government wants to reduce the estimated £30bn it spends on IT and back-office services although he would not say by exactly how much.

The savings, which Read said would come from “standardisation and simplification of IT systems” may help off-set some of the money given to banks as part of recent financial stimulus packages.

Read, who pushed his retirement from Logica forward in May 2007 as a direct result of the IT services company’s poor performance, was hired last year to oversee IT and back-office systems elements of the Treasury’s Operational Efficiency Programme.

According to reports in Computer Weekly, Read said UK taxpayers are paying more for IT and back office systems than other European states. “The bottom line is that the UK is spending a lot more money per capita than our European counterparts,” he said.

However, Read’s mandate to weed out the flab and waste from government IT procurement may surprise some, given that he left Logica following what some critics saw as a misguided strategy of acquisition. “In the light of the unsettling speculation following the company’s recent trading update, Martin Read has decided to accelerate his retirement plans,” the company said in statement at the time.

Read may also have his work cut out when it comes to cutting government IT costs given that he admitted at the same conference that it is far too difficult to get hard numbers on how much the government spends of IT.

“What did surprise me was just how little detailed information was kept about what was getting spent and what it was getting spent on,” he said, according to reports by Computer Weekly.