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4/8/2013
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London Boroughs Eye Shared Services Plan

Tri-Borough councils of West London say they can pare millions off operating budgets by sharing IT, financial and human resources services.

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
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A local pioneering government group that is trying to save costs by pooling IT resources says it wants to extend out its platform, possibly to many of its neighbors.

Three London-area councils -- Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith, and Fulham -- have been collaborators since 2011 in what's being dubbed the "Tri-Borough" shared services partnership. The idea: share IT, finance and human resources functions between the three, instead of duplicating the same functions. When it's set up, the partners said they expect to be able to pare as much as £40 million ($61 million) per annum off their operating costs.

Now, the trio have gone to market to procure a new IT services framework in a contract that adds up to over £3 million ($4.6 million), composed of £1 million ($1.5 million) of data center services, a help desk support contract of around £600,000 ($918,000) and a request for a distributed computing service of £1.5 million ($2.3 million). The aim is to introduce infrastructure-as-a-service and end-user computing, it seems, with Westminster leading deployment, looking to have such new systems in place within 18 months, and the other two Tri-Borough bodies two years later in October 2016.

[ Tech hubs are springing up all over the U.K. Read about the latest: Cardiff, Wales Wants To Be New Silicon Valley. ]

But that might just be the beginning, as the trio says that the service could easily expand and be offered to other London boroughs to use, including Ealing and Wandsworth, something that could push the contract value up over £1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) over four years, it claims.

"The requirement is for ICT services that are delivered to service-level agreements in a consistently efficient and effective manner," say the partners. Successful bidders, they add, will need to support the transition of the relevant participating authorities receiving ICT services to a set of common processes, which might involve the service provider investing in the service delivery.

The aim of the bid, they say, is not to provide "outsourced technology." Instead, the vision is that any successful service provider will have to be able to demonstrate that the underpinning technology ensures that the Council and other participating authorities will receive "streamlined ICT services, improved process efficiency and cost-effectiveness, capacity for self-service where appropriate, improved efficient reporting, identified savings and of course quality of service."

The effort emerged when it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union public procurement online service, where contracts over a certain size have to be made visible to as many European bidders as possible.

Shared service initiatives such as this are being heavily encouraged by British politicians, who see it as a relatively painless way of achieving notable cost cutting targets by combining back office functions instead of slashing local public sector front-line services, such as libraries.

InformationWeek's 2013 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2013 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2013 Government IT Innovators closes April 12.

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