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Auditor gives qualified praise to Welsh Government ICT insourcing


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Welsh Government has obtained benefits but not the level of savings it expected from its ICT insourcing programme, according to the national auditor.

Audit Wales has published a report, Insourcing the Welsh Government’s ICT Service, that says the move produced savings of £4.9 million over 2019-20, compared with an anticipated £8.1 million.

This was due largely to increased software costs and extra payments to contractors as a result of unfilled posts.

The insourcing has involved a move away from the Merlin contract with Atos, which began with the transfer of a small number of staff in November 2017 and was followed by the development of a business case in early 2018 for a widespread insourcing.

Financial resources for the move have been sufficient, the approach to programme and project management largely effective, and risks were managed effectively to ensure the transition was delivered on-time.

This has produced benefits, such as an increase in user satisfaction rates from 56% in October 2018 to 85% in March 2020, and a 67% first-time fix rate by the ICT service desk in the 22 months up to October 2020.

The auditor also highlights the roll out of 6,000 new laptops by the end of 2018, which has been critical in supporting home working during the pandemic lockdown and contributed to reduced travel costs. Another benefit has been the reduction in the number of serious ICT incidents.

Dip in performance

But the report also points to a dip in ICT service desk performance, most likely due to understaffing. The proportion of calls answered within 20 seconds fell from 94% in 12 months up to January 2019 to 72% in the 22 months to October 2020, and the proportion of calls abandoned rose from 3% to 12% in those periods.

In addition, it says there is scope for the Welsh Government to strengthen the way it monitors ICT service performance, with a need to update the indicators to reflect the new in-house model. It also points to a need to revisit staffing levels to obtain all the benefits.

Adrian Crompton, the auditor general, said: “It is good to be able to report in positive terms on an ICT change programme that has served the Welsh Government well as it has faced the challenge of a different way of working in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The job is not complete, however, with further action required to secure all of the intended benefits, to address the pressures caused by understaffing, and to ensure lessons are learnt for future projects.”

Image from iStock , Oleksii Liskonhi


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