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Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland

Published: 21 Jun 2011
Part of:
Public sector
ISBN:
978-1-78045-229

Report by John McClelland CBE on his review of ICT infrastructure in the public sector in Scotland.

58 page PDF

501.1kB

58 page PDF

501.1kB

Contents
Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland
17 Appendices - Landscape in Detail

58 page PDF

501.1kB

17 Appendices - Landscape in Detail

17.1 Landscape - Local Authorities

Interaction with senior executives and other representatives of local authorities left a clear view that those at a leadership level were particularly strong in their awareness of the substantial value that a sound information and communication technology strategy can bring to their organisations.

I also sensed a strong commitment to using ICT not only to enable savings within their organisations but also in exercising its capabilities to improve the quality of and access to local authority services.

Whilst that commitment is obvious there is also a general recognition that they are only part of the way through this transformational journey.

In my summary of the landscape I referred to exemplar activities. One of these within the local government sector is the Customer First initiative which has been developed, facilitated and has its overall governance supported by the Improvement Service. This project which has had Scottish Government financial backing involves councils pursuing a standard approach to customer facing services. As well as targeting significant cost savings in its first few years of operation its goals also include the delivery of more convenient, responsive and higher quality public services. The promotion of online access is an essential part of the agenda.

Its key elements include a programme for National ICT Infrastructure. This infrastructure supported by a primary data processing location involves shared investment in hardware, telecommunications, systems software and shared business applications. All 32 councils have a network connection to this national infrastructure and use at least one of the applications hosted there such as the Citizen Account and National Personal Licensing Databases, the National Entitlement Card ( NEC) System and the One Scotland Gazetteer a single property database for Scotland. The Citizen Account concept is an advanced one in that it provides a secure environment for citizens to register for and have access to services. The Citizen Account creates a single online record that customers can access securely and update themselves, using online authentication. This allows councils to maintain a definitive electronic record for their citizens. Also the smartcard concept employing a shared Card Management System has supported the national concessionary fares scheme and the Young Scot partnership card project which allows access to school transport, libraries, cashless catering and leisure facilities. The NEC facility is used by all 32 councils for concessionary travel with 12 also using it for leisure, 16 for libraries and 22 making use of the card for school meals. The Gazetteer is also accessed by many councils.

As an important foundation for the work of the Improvement Service is the understanding from a multi Scottish council benchmarking study that that a single "face-to-face" transaction can cost up to £11.28 whereas an equivalent contact centre episode expends £6.35 yet a similar transaction online incurs just 46 pence of cost. This approach and these cost assumptions are reinforced by an external study that showed similar differentials between the different types of service transactions 16 .

This has been part of the motivation for councils in general to embark on programmes to transition their practices from traditional enquiry practices to the use of contact centres and then moving onwards to online electronic interaction. However, many councils are still at or just moving to the second phase and achievement of the ultimate goal of providing all access online to all services is some way from being a reality. However in a Customer First Programme Report for 2009/10 it was shown that estimated savings from this transition project for the five years to 2009/10 were £27.4m from a sample of just 16 of the 32 councils thus confirming not only progress but outstanding future opportunity.

One key aspect of the transition is the need to ensure that customer satisfaction is maintained or even improved as these changes are made.

Within North Lanarkshire Council they have a "Service and People First" programme at the heart of which is ICT. Within this visionary project the move from direct contact towards other channels is well underway and the Council conducts surveys to test how residents within the area feel about these changes. Recent results show that they are satisfied that it is becoming easier to access services and that the quality of most services is improving. They have also reacted positively to an improved website which provides useful information such as on the status of roads and school closures.

Overall, these are very encouraging developments and embrace the important principles of organisations not only adopting effective ICT but also allowing its deployment to be supported through shared ICT operations, so all involved in supporting and adopting the Customer First project should take great credit.

As indicated all councils have engaged in this Customer First initiative and one example of many, and typical of where the adoption of ICT is also supporting major transformation, is the work that is underway at Renfrewshire Council. It has embarked on a project aimed at modernising customer services to meet the changing expectations of customers, allowing them to access services in the ways they do in other aspects of their lives by having less face to face services and more services available on the telephone and the Council's website. It is also expected to make recurring efficiency savings of around £10m by 2013/14 17 .

The core components of the new customer service delivery model include further development of customer relationship management systems, installation of modern telephony, a "tell us once" records service and development and deployment of mobile and flexible working in support of service delivery, asset management and sustainability goals.

Although this encouraging progress at Renfrewshire is typical of the journey that councils are making it also highlights the extent of the work required, the level of challenge involved and the fact that all councils still have a long way to go to achieve their full potential.

During this review many other examples of good practice in the use of ICT were observed. These applications cover a variety of areas demonstrating the breadth of the responsibilities held by councils and therefore the diversity of opportunities where technology driven approaches can be adopted.

West Lothian Council has been changing the community care of older people, working in partnerships to develop telecare systems and SMART technology which can be installed into people's own homes. The council has around 3000 SMART homes.

This technology is an important step in supporting people to continue to live in their own homes. It increases security and safety and also enhances services given by support workers. By allowing people to remain in their own homes for longer the clients are happier and the council is able to reduce the number of people admitted to care homes, resulting in increased customer satisfaction at reduced costs.

The benefits of this technology are not limited to older people, many of the solutions developed can also be used for people of all ages including those with disabilities thus helping them to sustain independent living.

The activity of recruitment can be expensive and the Improvement Service has developed an online recruitment portal, myjobsscotland available to all councils. It was projected that this would save £4.3m - £6.2m per annum. Uptake by councils and applicants has made the portal a success. It has resulted in 40-60% reduction in advertising spending, reducing the time to hire to around half and creating a positive view of the application process for applicants.

Aberdeenshire has developed and implemented a "textshire" service, whereby people are able to text in problems such as faulty street lamps directly to the council. This simple way of contacting the council reduces the time it takes for problem to be reported, resulting in quicker solutions and therefore happier customers. Moreover, it reduces the amount of time both the council and the customer have to spend on the problem, making it popular with both citizens and staff and reducing the cost to the council. This is a simple but very effective use of technology.

Aberdeenshire has also recently undergone a work style transformation. By adopting technology supported remote and mobile working it has reduced the number of desks and therefore workspace required in their offices so that there are seven desks for every ten employees. This has been very successful and it is believed to be possible to reduce the number of desks further, to five desks for every 10 employees. This has reduced costs and is releasing assets. It is also attractive to staff, many of whom prefer the flexibility of this way of working. It is made possible through readily available technology including hand held devices and like similar projects is ideal in its support for sustainability goals.

At Fife Council there is a leading edge project ( QUAD) underway to support flexible mobile working by deploying collaboration tools from a major networking systems company. It supports staff and work groups likely to be providing services from remote locations. The collaboration tools will allow staff to communicate as "virtual teams", participate in "virtual meetings" and securely share information between location independent workers. This adds to the agenda of "new workstyles" being promoted by the Council.

Fife Social Work also set up a data sharing partnership which led the development of the Fife Child Protection Register. This project has won several awards. Fife Social Work developed and hosts the register which has been made available free to all members of the partnership within Fife; police, social work, education and health. Users can log on 24 hours a day and update the register. This allows for real time updates and real time re-evaluations of potentially dangerous situations, keeping more vulnerable children safe.

At South Lanarkshire Council there is a strong ethos of using ICT to deliver efficiencies across the council's operations and also to minimise ICT transaction costs. The Council also through its Caird Road data centre offers a hosting service to other public sector bodies. Recent investment in the centre has seen it upgraded and capable of providing this shared service. Although there are a number of existing customers there is still underutilised capacity at the centre.

At the City of Edinburgh Council ICT has been used to transform how its public library operates. Routine transactions such joining the library or loan renewals can be conducted on line and an electronic catalogue allows internet accessed searching for books, films and music. Another key development is "Your Library". This online library can be used from home and offers a wide range of services including access to reference material and downloads.

At Orkney Islands Council remoteness is a characteristic that this body deals with as a matter of routine. For example it is largely self- sufficient as its geography does not lend itself to the sharing of ICT operations or other services with other local authority bodies. Although there have been some recent projects with the local health board including the establishment of a shared procurement service a more extensive proposal for sharing services between these two organisations was not supported.

Broadband performance and access is a key issue across the authority but in particular for the islands. The Council see this as a barrier to attracting industry and commerce.

Broadband access and performance is also making it difficult for the Council to implement flexible working especially related to the islands where travel is expensive and time consuming.

Officials are examining how alternative technologies such as wireless can help address this key problem.

Although there is without doubt considerable momentum within the local authority sector it is important to recognise that much of this progress is still taking place at an individual organisation level as they strive to improve their own ICT platforms. This is because most of the ICT operations, including applications hosting and development, are being separately undertaken and are not part of a centrally hosted service such as the National Infrastructure project mentioned earlier.

In addition to different internal developments there has also been a fragmented and mostly unstructured approach to the use of standard applications and other technologies available in the market.

This largely independent adoption of externally procured systems applications for similar business processes has resulted in an interesting pattern of selections across the authorities. The 32 councils use a limited number of suppliers of specialised applications software and indeed for major business processes there are only a few individual applications being used. However, despite this mosaic style landscape there are clusters of commonality.

For example, 11 of 32 councils have selected the same benefits application and 19 councils are using the same customer relations system. While in the area of environmental services and roads management six councils use the same provider's application. One single supplier has different applications running in 28 of the 32 councils.

These applications have mostly been separately procured and all are run as different instances within each council's data processing centre. In addition in many cases the standard offering has been modified at local request.

One of the consequences of this approach and mode of deploying ICT is that each individual council has its own standalone and largely "self-sufficient" ICT function and its own data processing capabilities, nearly all of it in-house.

These ICT functions are professionally staffed and run and would appear to provide very good service to their local organisations including local development capability.

With this type of structure it is inevitable that overall local authority staffing levels would be high and it appears that there are around 2400 employees within ICT functions and this staffing cost is a significant part of the estimated in-house operating cost of around £200m per annum.

Adding the external procurement cost of £325m (2008/9) indicates a total spend on ICT in the region of £525m per annum.

The local authority sector is not only strong in its professional ICT ethos it is also extensively involved in benchmarking. This is well facilitated by SOCITM an organisation of IT managers primarily from the UK local authority sector which does excellent work in influencing and promoting good practice.

Information released from SOCITM benchmarking studies shows ICT spend ratio data, internal customer satisfaction feedback and skill levels. Some of this data is referred to later in this report.

While the Improvement Service, COSLA and SOLACE work consistently to coordinate progress in efficiency, productivity and resource sharing the field of ICT is particularly challenging in that context. Specifically the absence of an oversight function or group is a major disadvantage when it comes to dealing with the issues of having multiple data centre investments, standalone ICT structures and fragmented unstructured procurement. This low level of sharing and coordination is adding significant cost and inhibiting shared operations of other business processes.

That issue has been recently addressed by a consortium of local authorities in the Clyde Valley. Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde and Councils are collaborating together in a ground-breaking initiative aimed at optimising their combined operations across a number of activities common to all local authorities. One of these workstreams is focused on shared services including ICT. This services strand is being led by East Renfrewshire with support from the Improvement Service.

The group has already identified opportunities and developed a business case which demonstrates that significant savings can be made over the coming years. It covers five different business processes and recognises that shared ICT can also be a platform for sharing in the other four processes.

During my review I did not find evidence of widespread outsourcing or even the view that outsourcing was generally regarded as a strategic component of ICT delivery.

There were some exceptions and one of the most notable of these is the major project undertaken at the City of Glasgow. This well formulated and advanced scheme is founded on a joint venture between the Council and an external service provider and the formation of a legal joint venture company jointly owned by the two parties. The company performs a number of services for the Council including the provision of ICT support. Its initial arrangements incorporated the secondment of Council employees including ICT staff to the new company.

Whilst traditionally the largest proportion of the operations of a typical local authority has been focused on the unique duties of that authority there has been in recent years more recognition that cross sector collaboration and partnering in some citizen facing areas is not only advantageous, it is essential. The citizen who becomes a patient, the patient who needs citizen and social care services, the vulnerable child, the disabled, the elderly, the accident victim all need seamless services and support that are not hampered by organisational boundaries.

A similar principle applies to other areas such as access to facilities and concessionary transport where entitlement should be gained through common technology.

This means that information needs to be universally available and support systems need to be common or at a minimum shared.

In addition it can be asserted that access to a citizen style portal would be an important aspect of this and although there is project work in this area with local authorities by the Improvement Service that theme is unique to the local authority sector. However, this would be only an access point and ICT capability needs to be developed beyond that point to effectively achieve this seamlessness.

17.2 Landscape - Health Service

The health service compared to the public sector in general is somewhat more advanced in its adoption and deployment of ICT for internal processes and in areas of service delivery.

There is a strong track record of sharing ICT and other capability within and across the NHS in Scotland. This is symbolised by the existence of eight special boards which support the 14 operational boards. These boards provide central services and support thus avoiding duplicated activities within each individual board.

In recent years one of the key foundations for ICT has been the eHealth Strategy (2008-2011). This ambitious and structured approach, supported by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, incorporated a vision and laid out the challenges with a strategy and actions required to move the use of ICT from where it was then towards where they want to get to.

The priorities identified included eHealth expertise, collaboration and common support, information governance and confidentiality, interoperability of core systems and patient identification and records. It also identified as a priority the development of a clinical portal to enable "single sign-on" to different sources of patient information for authorised clinicians.

The strategy also recognised the particular challenges faced in transforming a patient's journey through the health service (from GP via hospital services through to community services) from one that is reliant on information silos, some of which are still paper based, to an integrated electronic capability which satisfies all needs including confidentiality.

NHSScotland has established important principles for ICT adoption which are commonly held both centrally and across the Health Boards. They refer to how ICT solutions are developed and recognise that in order of merit the preferred option should be firstly to "re-use", the next alternative would be to "buy" solutions externally and the last resort should be to "build" them internally.

These are in my view critically important principles and their pursuit to a maximum extent should not only deliver best value but also take advantage of the continued technological progress being made by the ICT industry and its providers.

This strategy is developed and facilitated by the centrally based eHealth Division which plays a lead role in both progressing and monitoring implementation of national systems and in investing its funding in establishing standard specifications and common applications for deployment within the sector.

Another attribute unique to the health service is the existence of a central service delivery organisation for ICT. The National Services Scotland Board ( NSS) is responsible for the hosting, support and management of a significant number of common applications used by all the Health Boards. This same organisation also provides a central procurement service including coverage of some ICT spend.

These important structures are further supplemented by an overarching system of governance. The ICT strategy and its implementation is overseen by the eHealth Strategy Board which is chaired by the Director-General and its membership includes the chief executives of some health boards and senior medical and clinical representatives. Its work includes the alignment of the eHealth Strategy with policy and Scottish Government related activity.

It also sets delivery targets, approves budgets and holds NHS boards accountable for meeting targets in conjunction with the Health Directorate Management Board.

Another key part of this overall governance structure is the eHealth Programme Board which is chaired by the director for eHealth. This board is responsible for development and ownership of the eHealth Strategy and ensuring programme and individual projects are appropriately resourced. The governance structure also incorporates structures of internal users such as clinicians.

A recent topic for this governance structure was a new eHealth Finance Strategy for 2011-14 which within very comprehensive content focused on how important it is to take an overall national view of costs including individual board spend and also the potential value and cost reductions associated with convergence of systems and processes.

The area of governance was highlighted as one that needed improvement in an Audit Scotland report in 2006 and the structures described above are core elements of the response to that report.

As a result of all of these new activities and prior investments the existing landscape within NHSScotland is populated with examples of good progress in the adoption and crucially the shared deployment of ICT solutions.

At the core of ICT is wide area networking capability and the entire sector in Scotland uses the N3 broadband service centrally contracted and funded by the eHealth Division. A centrally led approach applies also to other provision and more recently within the context of the 2008/11 strategy there has been focus on a number of key national initiatives.

One of these is a new Patient Management System ( PMS) which sponsored by the eHealth Division has been the focus of a consortium of five separate health boards. This system was procured under one contract and is now installed in separate instances in each of these five health boards. The application provides leading edge capability including electronic prescribing and medications administration. It will streamline in-patient and out-patient bookings, manage waiting lists and order and report tests and results. It will also enable staff to keep track of patient records and allow information to be communicated back to GPs and also easily and securely between health boards when a patient is treated by more than one board. The investment in the PMS was £44m.

A similar type of central coordination was involved in the GPIT Framework in Primary and Community Care which was established in February 2010. This involves contracts to replace the existing single and centrally hosted system ( GPASS) with two more advanced alternative offerings, i.e. EMIS and VISION. The decision as to which system of the two to select and install locally is made by the individual health boards rather than by GPs who will then utilise the specific system being adopted by their own local health board.

Work is also progressing on a project for a Clinical Portal. An incremental approach is being pursued in development of this portal which will provide a single online entry point through which various elements of information related to a single patient can be accessed by authorised users. Centrally sponsored within the eHealth Programme three separate consortia of health boards have been commissioned to examine options for delivering the clinical portal. This is in line with views expressed by NHS Chairs that there should be no more than three developments across Scotland.

In these more recent eHealth developments the approach has been to have consortia of boards or individual boards bid for and win central funding to pursue alternative application system options. While this would appear to have advantages in progressing adoption of ICT solutions it is not obvious that it facilitates the sharing of hosted applications or avoids the continuation or growth of multiple data centre facilities.

Another underlying core project of great importance is the CHI-based patient record identification (Community Health Index). Use of this number allows elements of the patient's record to be reliably brought together and viewed by authorised clinicians. Although use of this national identifier in preference to local patient numbering has increased the eHealth strategy identifies full scale use of the CHI number as the primary identifier as a critical issue for the eHealth strategy.

The ePatient initiative being pioneered by Ayrshire and Arran Board involves patients volunteering to join this service and engaging in a programme of self-management of personal health.

As indicated above the NSS organisation provides a central service for a significant number of common applications used across the sector.

In fact the health service has 26 applications which are hosted and operated centrally by NSS in one single instance within the sector and for the sector. The extent of this use of common systems capability together with shared deployment is unique within the public sector in Scotland.

In addition the health service is strong in the area of outsourcing with these central data services and support activities being procured completely from a major information services company.

These 26 applications range from many that provide critical support to front line services such as, the Emergency Care Summary a vital 24x7 requirement, ePharmacy and Bowel Cancer Screening through to administrative systems such as Payroll and eExpenses.

The NSS organisation also centrally hosts and operates the system which gathers performance data from the 14 operational boards.

With this level of commonality of systems and central hosting it would seem that the health service is well positioned to pursue a more advanced shared services agenda.

New technologies and other advancements in techniques within the field of information systems offer the opportunity to reduce cost while often also significantly improving the quality of service.

An important example of this within the Health sector is the use of technology to support a telemedicine and telehealthcare programmes. This uses information and telecommunications to provide medical information and services. This could range from voice only communication through to the use of high speed broadband or satellite technology for video and other digital imaging techniques. It not only speeds up processes and brings faster outcomes but is of particular value in remote or rural situations where the use of videoconferencing consultation and communication can transform patient access and offer savings in time and transportation. The Telecare Development Programme with a £16m investment allows people to receive care in their homes by using a range of devices including sensors. Apart from supporting the personal independence of thousands of people the programme also avoids hospital admissions at a time when resources are stretched.

The health service is intensely interested in operational statistics and has taken a strong interest in "business intelligence" systems including the operation of a data warehousing capability which is centrally hosted by the NSS Board.

Another recent development is that of the Picture Archiving Communication System which through the use of digital technology allows the storage and transmission of images. Amongst its benefits this system has cut the time that patients have to wait for results of x-rays and scans.

Although there is evidence that ICT is playing an important role in the quality of service delivery there is a lot of progress still to be made in facilitating electronic access for and engagement with patients and in particular the use of online internet capability for patient transactions is not far advanced.

Also there are major opportunities both from a citizen/patient perspective and from an efficiency viewpoint to further develop common processes and systems sharing in areas of overlap and interlock between the health service and local authorities.

Despite the progress and the landscape described above the health service, in keeping with other parts of the public sector, is still structured in a way that means that each board has its own standalone IT function including self-sufficient data processing facilities.

It is estimated that there are at least 1700 ICT staff in the NHS in Scotland. This staffing cost together with other infrastructure costs would indicate that internal spend is around £135m and if external procurement spend of £215m (2008/9) is added then the total ICT annual spend for the sector would be approximately £350m.

In this context there also seems to be a need for reconciliation and then clarification of the agreed approach on whether central hosting, regional or local hosting is most appropriate for common NHS applications. Review is also needed of the question of whether there should be single common applications or a multiple choice offering through developing a limited number of alternatives. Recent decisions on developing and hosting newer applications give rise to this uncertainty.

17.3 Landscape - Wider Scottish Government

There are more than 100 major separate units within the domain of the "Wider Scottish Government". This includes the integrated SG departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies ( NDPBs). Their interests, responsibilities and operations are quite diverse. These characteristics vary from organisation to organisation. Those of the Prison Service (an agency) are different from organisations such as the Directorate for Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning (a Scottish Government directorate) or Scottish Enterprise (a NDPB).

Within the Scottish Government there is the ISIS Division which has a multiplicity of roles within this grouping and also for other parts of the public sector e.g. when interacting with the UK Government on ICT matters.

ISIS is the formal ICT services provider to the core Scottish Government departments and directorates and ten government agencies. It has its own in-house large scale data centre and fully skilled staff including the Scottish Government's Chief Technology Officer. The data centre is not yet fully utilised and capacity is being offered to other organisations across the public sector.

The directorate oversees a broadband network capability which is contracted with one of the large telecommunications providers.

In January 2009 ISIS published internally a technology strategy which set out a five year plan for the technical infrastructure needed to provide ICT services to the Scottish Government and associated public sector bodies. It recommended the increased use of thin client workstations, storage area networks, open source software, consolidation of servers and the use of more recent and emerging technologies such as video-telephony, voice over internet protocol and wireless.

It also addresses key factors and drivers such as functionality for cost, security, sustainability, standards, interoperability and the need for more sharing of ICT capability and applications.

The strategy emphasises the objective of centralising provision and management of services and the consolidation of hardware.

It points out that highly distributed ICT solutions are more expensive to support and maintain than centralised solutions particularly with advances in broadband network services offering higher capacity and performance and concludes that the key to reducing the cost of ICT is to centralise into as few locations as is feasible.

The strategy sees centralisation leading to reduced systems and support costs, server hardware costs and providing better data security at a lower cost.

ISIS also offers technical and other services to the wider Scottish Government organisations. One of these services is SCOTS. This is a fully managed and supported service that enables customers to access a set of desktop tools and other facilities. The other facilities include internet access and connection to the Government Secure Intranet ( GSI), an IT helpdesk service and access to corporate applications. There is also a SCOTS lite network for organisations that don't require the security conditions necessary to be part of the GSI.

Another service offered is managed telephony which covers supervision and management of support including the management of suppliers, implementation of moves and changes and repair of faulty equipment and cabling. The service includes a central help desk, call logging services and billing for mobile telephone and handheld devices.

Electronic records and document management (e RDM) is the Scottish Government's system to manage official records and related documents electronically and this service is also offered by ISIS to the wider Scottish Government bodies.

The vitally important area of data handling and information assurance is addressed by a central offering from ISIS that covers the core departments, executive agencies and NDPBs. The organisation also provides a national security vetting service for individuals who due to the sensitive nature of their work require certain security clearances.

The ISIS organisation and its officers play a key role in representing the Scottish Government at a UK level and participating in UK-wide Councils and Fora. They have been especially active in interacting on the subject of the UKICT Strategy and have initiated their own work and encouraged that of others in support of the UK Public Sector Network project. ISIS also leads a Scottish CIO Council bringing together ICT and other stakeholders to review cross sector national issues and opportunities.

The Central Enquiry Unit is operated by ISIS. This operation provides a gateway service for telephone calls by referring callers to the most appropriate unit within the Scottish Government.

The ISIS organisation has scale and competence and its services are widely used especially by the units within the core Scottish Government. However, NDBP's are not consistent in their use of ISIS services and adoption of ISIS as their ICT provider is certainly not their default mode.

A number of NDPBs have indicated that they believe it appropriate that they should receive additional ICT services from ISIS provided the cost of the service demonstrates the value of sharing and also that an appropriate provider/customer model can be developed. In this context it should be noted that the ISIS data centre is not fully utilised.

For a number of years the Scottish Government has operated a Shared Services Unit and its responsibilities have include support to ICT sharing across the public sector and also a central ICT policy role for the Scottish Government. The decision on that responsibility sought to link ICT policy to the cross public sector shared services agenda. Through this Unit investment has been made in many different projects across the public sector including a number orchestrated by the Improvement Service for local authorities. The Improvement Service projects are referred to elsewhere in this report.

One of the most notable and beneficial shared ICT services across all parts of the public sector in Scotland is the eProcurement service and its supporting IT application. This capability is well established and is now utilised by nearly all individual public sector bodies and 47 universities and colleges. It is centrally hosted in one single instance thus avoiding the cost of providing this capability many times over.

In a similar way the Scottish Government invested in an information hub for expenditure with suppliers. This externally procured application interrogates all payments made to suppliers and after analysis and processing makes a central repository available to hundreds of users across the whole public sector.

These two initiatives developed and administered by the Scottish Procurement Directorate already exercise concepts that are technically similar to those being developed behind the label of "Cloud Computing".

This same directorate has also developed and established the Public Sector Contracts Portal which allows thousands of suppliers to access a single portal and thus have knowledge of potential business to be bid for and won through public sector contracts.

Although NDPB's do not participate to a significant level in shared ICT services they are reasonably advanced in the adoption of ICT for the conduct of their own operations.

Learning and Teaching Scotland is a NDPB, and one that has shown outstanding leadership in the use of ICT in pursuit of its mission of supporting teachers and schools.

Glow was the reputedly the world's first national schools intranet providing a range of tools and resources for pupils and practitioners. These include game based learning, video material and communications via social media.

Skills Development Scotland has led a consortium of NDPBs in developing a joint contract with an external service provider. This organisation working collaboratively with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a number of other bodies has sponsored a single core network and service platform. This has substantially reduced the ICT resources within the various organisations and delivered significant cost savings.

Skills Development Scotland has also developed and recently launched a new digitally based approach that supplements the existing work done in the area of careers advice and guidance.

This offering labelled "My World of Work" provides online support and easily accessible information including the use of video and has links planned to other learning- and career-related sites.

Visit Scotland makes a valuable contribution to Scotland's economy by supporting the tourist industry. In recognition of the advantages that ICT can bring to this important sector it is planning to deploy a new "open platform" website. The site seeks to connect with millions internet users across the world and assist them in engaging with Scotland's 26,000 tourism businesses.

Also the public sector organisations associated with promoting enterprise and economic growth are collaborating to provide a single portal to private sector companies seeking support to develop and grow their businesses.

As indicated earlier the Scottish Government and its associated bodies have within their grouping a wide range of characteristics. Different bodies have alternative structures and provide different services or support and as a result the pattern of proportion of income spent on ICT varies widely from organisation to organisation.

However, overall, it is estimated that the wider Scottish Government's and associated bodies spend on ICT per annum is in the region of £280m including an external procurement spend of £185m.

17.4 Landscape - Universities and Colleges

Although universities and colleges in Scotland are autonomous bodies and not legally part of the public sector, the majority of their funding comes from the public purse and the funding agreements in place with the Scottish Funding Council ( SFC) include the requirement to demonstrate that best value is being delivered.

Institutions and their representative bodies have readily accepted this principle and have worked to pursue and also demonstrate their commitment to it.

The university sector in the UK including Scotland's universities have for many years participated in central ICT offerings provided by the Joint Information Systems Committee ( JISC) and its associated organisation Janet. These organisations are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Government.

Janet is an association which manages the operation and development of a network linking the UK's educational and research organisations to each other. It is used by all of Scotland's universities and now by colleges so that in the area of broadband there is in effect a shared service approach. The combination of JISC and Janet services adds other education and research applications to the menu available to user institutions.

In addition to sharing this network and the applications that it supports there is also general use across all Scottish universities of the UK-wide UCAS system which deals with learner applications for places to study at institutions and carries through to managing the placement process.

There are also five regional broadband networks within Scotland which are contracted (with SFC financial support) with regional network operators operated under the Janet structures. These are in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Aberdeen and at the UHI in Inverness.

The total investment by the Scottish Funding Council in the JISC/Janet structures was £8.6m in 2007/8 and £6.1m in 2008/9 18 .

The adoption of ICT solutions and their use as productivity tools is quite advanced both in business operations and also in electronic-based learning.

For example our universities and colleges are effective adopters of "virtual learning environments" which include a range of different applications and technologies.

In the area of business systems every college and university has a modern application for its financial processing and although generally procured and operated separately there is some commonality in the usage of these standard applications.

A recent survey showed that 15 colleges used the same package and the next most frequently used application featured in ten further education institutions. Also across 17 of the higher education institutions there were only four different standard financial applications in use.

Also in colleges only two different student record systems account for a large majority of the usage of this type of ICT capability.

The Advance Procurement for Universities and Colleges organisation has been developing its involvement in ICT procurement both in being involved in unique projects and also in facilitating central contracts for some externally provided applications including learning tools.

However, in other areas of ICT such as shared applications or data processing facilities the situation is similar to the public sector in that nearly all institutions have their own dedicated ICT support and data processing facilities running their own standalone applications. The deployment of shared services in ICT is still relatively low and less than a third of the institutions had at least one shared service.

It is estimated that universities and colleges have a total annual ICT spend of around £150m including more than £100m of external procurement spend.

In recognition of this opportunity the Scottish Funding Council in 2010 provided financial support to a project being led by the University of Stirling on behalf of the Higher Education Information Directors Scotland ( HEIDS).This is studying the feasibility of opportunities for"collaborative above campus shared ICT services". This work will be complete in the first half of 2011 and will cover all aspects of ICT activity.

In addition the SFC has funded a project involving collaboration between St Andrew's University and Robert Gordon University for research in the area of creating high-value cloud computing services.

One of the most important elements of the corporate plan of the Scottish Funding Council in recent years has been working with institutions on general collaboration and merger activity.

Recent and current mergers proposed by institutions and financially supported by the SFC include: University of Paisley and Bell College forming the University of the West of Scotland; Falkirk and Clackmannan Colleges forming Forth Valley College; University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art; Glasgow Metropolitan College, Glasgow College of Nautical Studies and Central College forming the City of Glasgow College.

In addition, there is other work still in process that involves a number of other colleges in collaboration or federation projects.

In all of these collaboration and merger arrangements there has been within the business cases recognition that sharing ICT services can offer benefits including worthwhile financial savings.

17.5 Landscape - Police and Fire

Scotland's Police Forces have already progressed along the shared services route. In 2007 the Scottish Police Services Authority ( SPSA) was established. This unit combined the support resources from the eight regional forces into a shared services organisation of 1600 staff with a current budget of around £100m. The services it provides ranges from forensic capability and related resources through to ICT support to the eight forces.

The sharing of ICT services is a key priority and since formation the SPSA has saved an important proportion of its peak ICT resources.

At the Scottish Fire Service there is a sound policy of ICT adoption. There is also a "virtual" central procurement organisation within which a selected lead authority focuses on specific categories of spend on behalf of all the others. ICT is one of these categories. While individual fire services are not opposed to sharing there are at present no major projects in the area of shared ICT.

It is estimated that the overall annual spend on ICT by the two services is approximately £95m including external procurement spend of £50m.


Contact

Email: ceu@gov.scot