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Keywords: Shared services, government, digitalisation, digital by default, Confederation of British Industry, standardisation
Ivan Ujvari | News | 22 June 2012
The UK government has highlighted its commitment to the shared services model in a new Civil Service Reform Plan published this week.
Cabinet Office Minster Francis Maude and Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake unveiled the plans, which they hope will lead to "real change" in the way Whitehall operates.
They noted that the Civil Service is having to make some difficult decisions at the moment as it tries to balance growing customer expectations with economic and financial challenges.
It therefore needs to be more flexible, more efficient, more innovative, less hierarchical and have a much greater focus on outcomes instead of processes.
One of the main elements of the reform programme will be to create a "unified" Civil Service which will see shared services become "the norm" across government.
Mr Maude said: "We need to build capabilities and address missing skills, embrace new ways of delivering services - for example through mutuals - and do more digitally."
Indeed, digitalisation was listed as a key part of the reform strategy. The report stressed that "digital by default" must become a reality within the Civil Service.
Just before the new plan was published the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) issued its own report showing the impact of standardised shared services in government.
The body said that the shared services model could deliver "essential" budget savings without compromising on service quality, as departments would be able to benefit from economies of scale.
But it is not just about setting up more shared services centres. Instead, it's about standardising their implementation and making sure that they are all working to best practice norms.
Matthew Fell, Director for Competitive Markets at the CBI, said: "The Cabinet Office needs to direct all government departments not already doing so to sign up to existing shared services arrangements in the short term and set out detailed plans to establish independent shared service centres to cater for the whole civil service in the future."
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