South Scotland

Scottish Borders Council's ICT department criticised

Computer keyboard and headset Image copyright Gajus

Scottish Borders Council's information and communications technology (ICT) department has been heavily criticised in a report.

The document said councillors and staff have complained about issues including "poor service" and "lack of speed".

It also claimed that some council services have resorted to finding their own ICT solutions, rather than consult in-house experts.

Councillors have now agreed to a review of the department.

The criticisms emerged in a published summary of a private report to members of the local authority.

It said councillors and staff of the council "appreciate the commitment ICT staff make to the council".

However it accused the department, which employs 90 people, of sending out emails to staff which were too technical and unclear.

Private sector

The report said both the department's communications and customers services are "poor".

It added that the council finds it difficult to hire appropriately skilled staff, as many of those with the suitable experience and qualifications are drawn to private sector organisations with higher salary packages.

Councillors agreed that the service should be led by the officer responsible for ICT at the City of Edinburgh Council while a review takes place.

A new strategy for the future of the service should be determined by early October.

Councillor Michael Cook, executive member for human resources and corporate improvement, said they will consider "in some detail" each element of the service.

"As part of this exercise, we will market test the technical elements of our ICT service.

"There is strong evidence that SBC would be able to take advantage of industry knowledge more quickly, access new skills, take advantage of economies of scale and benefit from a relationship with a private sector ICT service provider."

A statement on behalf of the GMB, Unite and Unison unions said the inclusion of their members in review workshops was a positive step.

They added: "Our members have been vocal in telling SBC management that they can deliver what is required.

"It is now up to SBC management to work with us and actually be clear to our members about what they need. We look forward to open and constructive dialogue on this issue over the next few months."

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