Government IT costs £6,000 a day

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GOVERNMENT’S information systems division (ISD) came under close scrutiny amid concern over the high level of payments for staff from one company – Intelligence Limited.

Payments from the ISD – which provides information/communication technology across government – have totalled £8m over the last five years – which equates to £6,000 per day.

Tynwald’s Public Account Committee called Allan Paterson, who retired as director of ISD after 10 years in the role, in for questioning.

It came after an internal audit by the division, which is part of the Department of Economic Development, revealed the scale of the spending. The audit also showed about seven Intelligence staff worked at the ISD on a daily basis.

Asked by the committee’s chairman, Alfred Cannan (Michael MHK) to justify the £8m figure, Mr Paterson said: ‘I think it is a business as normal process where there is a finite headcount.’

He said that at the last count before he retired of the number of projects, there were 53.

And he described the contract as ‘value for money’.

Mr Cannan said it would ‘surely be cheaper’ to hire the workers directly instead of using Intelligence.

Mr Paterson countered that using Intelligence ensured there was a continuity in service of workers with a high level of competency, saying that in the past staff had been recruited by ISD and trained, and then left.

‘There’s a tendency for people to move on,’ he said.

He said he hadn’t met regularly with the minister responsible for the ISD when it was under Treasury and even less so from April 2010, under DED.

Mr Paterson said the company’s role was to provide a mix of strategic governance to departments, a mix of programme and project management, and business analysis services.

He explained Intelligence were brought in due to a cap on head count imposed on the division: ‘They are there to fill a gap because we do not have adequate headcount to meet the demand from the business units for business change.

‘Their value is the experience, the high level of competence, a strong user relationship and a good understanding of business change and programme management. The other value is they fill gaps if someone goes off ill for an extended period, so you get continuity of service.’

Mr Paterson said there was no need for such a service before 2003 because much of the work was carried out at departmental level:

‘What was becoming clear was at that level it was impossible to drive the joined up agenda required.’

Intelligence were chosen following a competitive tendering process, which drew four applications from companies that could provide the service.

‘I think it was probably the lowest,’ he said.

Mr Paterson was also questioned by public accounts committee members Dudley Butt MLC, Brenda Cannell MHK and Leonard Singer MHK.

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