Many local councils will find it hard to meet the targets for e-government because their procurement processes are too long-winded.
According to Richard Broad, regional director for local government at Oracle, IT procurement rules are slowing down the modernisation of local services.
"While many are on track with their e-government targets, the ones that have left it late may find it a struggle to purchase and install new equipment in time," he said.
Many councils are opting to upgrade their IT infrastructure in order to provide an integrated online service to their residents. "Infrastructure spend is getting on the agenda. Local authorities are looking at systems that will support their future business rather than their legacy systems," explained Broad.
Councils such as Haringey in north London have opted to outsource their financial systems, hoping to shave between three and six per cent off the running costs. These will then be ploughed back into online service delivery.
"This is an important step to meeting our e-government targets," said Lisa Wills, project manager for Haringey Council.
The tender to run the council's financial systems initially attracted 36 bids, with Logica winning the contract. The procurement procedure was a lengthy one but there were advantages, explained Rob Herson, account manager at Logica.
"We spent so long talking to Haringey that the personal relationships necessary to operate successfully are already in place," he said.
The contract is worth £13m over the next 10 years. The implementation replaces the current UNI2000 payroll and human resources system, with financial, human resources and payroll components of mySAP.com running on a Hewlett Packard Netserver. These will be hosted in Logica's data centre in south Wales.
"The integrated system will save money, as well as provide the infrastructure to support our customer facing systems," said Wills.
The system will go live in June 2002, but until it is operational it will not cost Haringey a penny. "It was important that we had a partner that was willing and confident enough to share the risk," explained Wills.
Logica has been keen to attract other public sector bodies, according to Henson. "The government's targets for getting services online has driven up demand. A lot of public sector bodies are undertaking the kind of enterprise resource planning work that blue chip firms underwent some time back," he said.
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