Spending on local government IT has fallen by three per cent, according to a report by the Society of Information Technology Management (SocITM).
The report, which is based on a questionnaire sent to local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, shows that budgeted spending by councils is #1,040 million - three per cent less than last year and 14 per cent down on its 1993 peak.
The report?s author Brian Westcott said a shift towards compulsory competitive tendering had had a significant impact on council IT departments in which more than 24 per cent of staff were employed by service providers.
?The proportion of IT budgets spent on bought-in goods and services has steadily increased in recent years and now stands at 57 per cent. Last year it was 52 per cent,? Westcott said.
After a number of years of low staff turnover, council IT managers are starting to report recruitment problems - particularly in areas like telecommunications. ?Skill shortages are particularly prevalent in the new unitary authorities where overall numbers have been reduced and, for the time being, workloads have increased,? Westcott said.
A significant number of IT managers see staff morale as a major problem, with their budgets being cut and with training reduced by one-third last year. ?Many managers appear to be on the defensive and are worried about their own positions,? Westcott said.
The report speaks of the continual change in central IT departments as a major contributory factor to low morale. ?Two-thirds of IT departments had undergone a significant organisational changes in the last two years or further changes were planned,? Westcott said.
Two-thirds of authorities still have mainframe computers but there has been a strong growth in Unix systems. ICL continues to dominate the market for mainframe and midrange systems.
The report says that most local authorities hold personnel information on computer, but less than one-third have worked out a way of integrating this with their payroll systems. Personnel managers plead a shortage of resources in their areas, but are planning major investments over the next two years.
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