IT spending in government departments could be cut back as the extent of the Spending Review begins to be fully understood.
Downing Street expects departments to meet the cuts by earmarking back-office areas to be trimmed, according to the Review (PDF), suggesting that IT budgets will be hit.
The Department for Education is to cut 12 per cent from its non-schools budget, and the government has said that this should be achieved by "cutting administration and back-office costs".
The Home Office is also set to reduce IT spend, and police forces have been told to make savings in these areas.
"In order to protect key priorities, police forces will need to focus on driving out wasteful spending, reducing back-office costs and improving productivity. The government will support this by cutting out time-wasting bureaucracy," the Review said.
HM Revenue & Customs will look to "maximise savings from IT contracts", while the Ministry of Justice intends to reduce its back-office and administration costs by 33 per cent.
Socitm, the professional association for public sector ICT management, suggested that, if back-office cuts include IT spend, the government risks missing out on the long-term benefits of IT.
"Judicious technology investment is the single biggest opportunity to drive significant cost reductions, service reshaping and the protection of essential public service delivery," said Socitm president Jos Creese.
"We have to be clear in our advocacy for investment in IT to protect essential services and continue the pace of change to modernise, promoting more efficient delivery models."
Creese warned that failing to elucidate the cost-saving benefits of IT could see chief executives and service managers "simply cutting IT without a full understanding of its wider impact". But he conceded that IT needs to be managed efficiently.
"It is really important that IT is as lean as possible, challenging what it does and how it does it. We have plenty of scope to do this, with clear evidence of opportunities for greater integration, shared services and improved contracts," said Creese.
The Review also sets out the government's desire to look at software alternatives for IT spending, announcing that it will "mandate consideration and comparison of open source software for government IT".
The Conservative Party told V3.co.uk before the election that it would consider open source, and appears to be sticking to this pledge.
The government clearly sees IT as an area where savings can be made, but appears committed to maintaining budgets for necessary services, announcing a £650m national cyber security budget on Tuesday.
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