Gov. designates SFIA for IT contractor fealty

The UK government may be looking for its IT contractors and consultants to adopt the SFIA skills reference model, a Cabinet Office speaker told delegates at the SFIA Conference 2009 in London this week.

In her keynote address at the event, Cabinet Office CIO & director of the Government IT Profession Lesley Hume restated the Government’s increasing endorsement of the SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) initiative. She said that the Government was determined to “close the gaps” in its internal ICT skillsets by using SFIA to identify and employ the specific competences that current and future public sector projects required.

The aim of this is partly to reduce the public sector IT expenditure on external consultants and contractors, which across government is running at over £2bn per year.

“We are asking IT suppliers to speak the same language as we do.,” Hume said, “[So we are] looking for IT partners to commit to using SFIA [because] we need to maintain the whole SFIA approach right the way to the end of the contract.”

SFIA enables employers of IT professionals to perform a range of HR activities against a common framework of reference - including skill audit, planning future skill requirements, development programmes, standardisation of job titles and functions, and resource allocation.

“We are promoting professionalism as an agent of change in public service,” Hume added. “SFIA enters this in many guises. Our focus is to ensure that [within government] we now grow our own IT leaders.”

Hume believes that SFIA, launched in 2003, gives government “a common language” with which to better communicate with external partners, with over 300 public sector organisations now using SFIA to align their IT skills with the business needs. Departments such as HM Revenue & Customs are tracking the business benefits of SFIA to develop a “more cost-effective IT workforce” that would offset reliance on external IT partners.

However, Hume added, government technology specifiers would continue to use external partners extensively for the foreseeable future, admitting: “We can’t yet deliver the government agenda without the help of outside suppliers”.

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