Effective IT asset management can help all tiers of government departments to have a clear view of their IT assets. This can help a department to have no unexplained variance between the lists of IT assets purchased against the actual assets that can be accounted for in a department or municipality.
According to Gordon Hayden, sales manager at CA Southern Africa, if these key controls are consistently in place departments are more likely to gain clean or unqualified annual audits.
Very few of South Africa’s municipalities received clean audits from the Auditor General in 2011 – but for half of those audited, the qualification related not to their finances but to their internal controls. Similarly, only 8% of national departments received clean audits.
“Many municipalities and national government departments have made good progress when it comes to their financial controls, but they continue to receive qualified audits because, inter alia, they cannot account for all their assets,” says Hayden.
“Given the fact that IT is now as pervasive across government as it is in business, the amount that government spends on IT means that a hefty proportion of this expenditure is on IT related assets.”
Hayden says that many government departments do not have the required processes in place to manage the entire life cycle of an IT asset.
“It starts with the procurement of an asset via a vendor contract, then moves from delivery to setup to the IT assets being used by an individual or as part of an IT service. At some stage the IT asset is upgraded or repaired and then finally retired when it has served its useful purpose.
“The information throughout the lifecycle of the asset is available but it is preferable for this to be automated so that a CIO is able to determine what is being used on a constant basis. So with this information readily available, decisions can be made around the IT assets and reports that comply with the Auditor Generals controls can be generated,” notes Hayden.
An IT asset lifecycle solution goes far beyond just tracking the physical location of any one piece of technology, whether it is hardware, servers and desktops, or software. It also includes the commercial contract with the vendor that will provide insight into what has been purchased and the detail of the warranty expectations.
“We sometimes see hardware being sent for costly repairs when it is still under warranty. Knowledge of, and access to, this type of information can significantly reduce costs in a department,” says Hayden.
“With this kind of information backed up by a proper process, government departments and municipalities can go beyond compliance to manage all assets more cost effectively. For example, should a particular piece of equipment be sweated – kept in service until it has been milked of its last drop of efficiency – or should it be replaced?
“When it comes to software assets, it is possible to match the number of licences purchased in the vendor contract to the number actually in use at any one time. Then when it comes to software license renewal time, a government department knows exactly how many licenses are in use and can contract and pay accordingly.
“At the moment this information is not readily available to CIO’s and this can lead to unnecessary IT spend,” says Hayden.
“The end game is to manage costs more effectively across government’s massive IT budgets — with the ultimate aim of reducing the cost of IT assets. This will allow government CIOs to spend on priority citizen centric projects. This is a trend across governments globally, and is driving the emergence of automated asset-management solutions such as CA IT Asset Manager.
“Such solutions should support both vendor and contract management; cradle to grave management of IT assets and moreover, they should produce reports that improve decision-making and provide timeouts information for input to the Auditor General.”
Hayden concludes that government CIOs should be looking for a solution that enables compliance with the Auditor General’s requirement for internal controls, but also one that will assist in the management of IT infrastructure more effectively and at reduced cost.