IT spending among some of the biggest central government departments plummeted in the double digits annually in FY14, according to CRN's Public Sector Report (PSR).
In September, CRN sent out Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to all local authorities and central government departments enquiring about their spending on IT in both FY13 and FY14 as part of the PSR research.
Four of the sixteen central government departments responded to CRN within the allotted four-week timescale and answered our questions in full and all of them said their IT budgets were cut drastically year on year in FY14.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) saw its budget cut by a massive 29 per cent annually in FY14, falling from £1.08bn to £761.93m. The Department for Education (DfE) suffered a similar fate, with its budget slumping more than a quarter (26 per cent) to £55.54m in FY14, down from £74.67m the year before.
The Treasury spent 13 per cent less on IT in FY14 than it did a year ago, with its outlay slumping from £20.57m to £17.81m. The double-digit year-on-year declines were felt in the Attorney General's office too, with its spending on IT tumbling 16 per cent annually from £202,922 to £171,087 in FY14.
Department for Work and Pensions
The DWP's IT budget was the largest of those responding
to our FOIs and also the one which suffered the largest annual decline - its budget was cut 29 per cent to £761.93m in FY14. In its response, the DWP said its huge IT purse was down to the fact the department itself is massive - it employs more than 92,00 staff and in FY13 alone paid out £163bn in benefits and pensions to more than 22 million citizens.
In FY14, the largest slice of its IT budget went on hosting - it shelled out £195m on the technology. Application development and networks were its next-biggest outgoings, racking up respective bills of £160.14m and £154.60m.
Department for Education
The DfE suffered one of the largest cuts out of the central bodies which responded to our FOI requests. The body's biggest IT outlay for both years was services, and spending on this segment dropped 19 per cent annually. This was driven mainly by a huge decrease in spending on managed services - in FY14 it shelled out more than £42m on managed or outsourced services and just shy of £26m a year later.
More savings were made on the department's IT bill by slashing its spend on products - its hardware bill was down a whopping 72 per cent year on year from £2.90m to just £803,081 a year later. Its software bill was down 52 per cent over the same period from £1.85m to £866,389.
Back in 2010 when the coalition first came to power, the Treasury inked a deal with Fujitsu to provide it and the Cabinet Office with ICT services as part of a five-year shared-services deal called Flex. The department - which is charged with taking care of the entire public sector's spending - claimed the deal would help it cash in on economies of scale.
This governnment department is responsible for providing legal advice and support to the Attorney General and Solicitor General, who provide the government with legal advice and help investigate issues in the public interest.
Although the department's IT budget in FY14 was small - and dwarfed by that of the other bodies responding to our FOI requests - it was not immune from IT spending cuts. In FY14, its IT bill fell 16 per cent to just over £171,000.
The body did not provide us with a breakdown in its IT spending, claiming the task would use more resources than is allotted to reply to a single FOI request.
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