The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has outsourced its IT to services company ITNET in a £36m, 10-year deal as it attempts to meet an early deadline for putting its services online.
Under its Public Services Agreement (PSA) Richmond has to meet the 2005 e-government targets one year early to receive additional government grants.
Mike Gravatt, assistant director of finance at the borough, explained that the council did not have the capital or skills to complete its ambitious e-government plans to meet its 2004 deadline.
"We needed a private sector partner because we lacked the capacity to make the required investments and did not have the expertise to implement it," he said.
ITNET will invest in the equipment and support the borough's IT infrastructure. Richmond will pay for the service yearly and hand over responsibility for its IT infrastructure to ITNET for the period of the contract.
Pat Keane, head of IT at Richmond borough council, stressed that the outsourcing deal had not been a reaction to a shortfall in the current IT department but was in order to meet the authority's plans.
Richmond's 12 full-time IT staff, along with its five contractors, will transfer to ITNET under Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations.
Julian Cook, account development manager at ITNET, said: "We will offer the workers the same terms and conditions of employment when they transfer, as we are a Government Actuaries Department-approved company."
ITNET works with 37 local authorities on similar projects but this deal is its first to cover an entire local authority IT infrastructure and presents a working model for other authorities, said Cook.
"The way Richmond has decided to reach its e-government target is a model that a lot of local authorities will follow," he added.
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