The government s plans to consolidate departments back-office activities are not delivering value for money, the NAO has found
The National Audit Office NAO has given a damning assessment of the government s shared service centre programme, saying its savings have been less than expected and has not achieved value for money to date.
The NAO also criticised the Cabinet Office s management of the programme and pointed out that the savings to date have come at a considerable cost to those participating in the programme, obliging them to transfer back-office staff to privately owned companies and move to a standardised operating platform that was out-of-date by the time it came online.
Savings outweighed by costs
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The programme has saved £90 million to date, with investment costs of £94 million, the NAO said.
The comments are likely to be seen as more broadly critical of the value for money of shared services programmes, which the government has emphasised as a way of cutting back-office costs and reallocating resources to front-line services.
The Cabinet Office said it welcomed the report and would consider the NAO s recommendations.
Private sector shift
Under the programme, the government has established two shared services centres, signing contracts with private firms Arvato and Sopra Steria to operate them.