UK government IT spend to top £12bn

The government's investment in technology must take its social impact into consideration, warns Gartner

The UK government will spend almost $20bn on technology this year but must focus on the social impact as well as financial benefits of that investment, according to analyst house Gartner.

UK public sector IT spend is up 4 percent on last year and will rise to $22bn in 2005, largely driven by the need to meet e-government deadlines for putting services online, according to Gartner. The UK government also spends more than any other western European government -- almost double that of closest rival Germany with $11bn.

But Andrea Di Maio, research VP at Gartner, told ZDNet UK's sister site that while there is pressure for the public sector to justify the huge sums of taxpayers' money invested in technology in financial terms there is often a social impact that needs to be considered.

Di Maio said projects that while it is easy to calculate return on investment, on projects such e-procurement systems for example, there can be wider and often detrimental repercussions.

"It can have a negative effect on local economies, where the authority is now buying through a central marketplace rather than locally and it can have a negative impact on local economic development," he said.

The creation of a central government CIO role to oversee a common technology strategy is key to a properly 'joined-up' government, according to Gartner.

Di Maio said: "If you want to join up government you must join up responsibilities as well."

Just last month e-envoy Andrew Pinder proposed the creation of a UK government CIO to merge his role with that of the head of spending watchdog the Office of Government Commerce.