Local authorities are struggling to manage database software compliance tools due to increasing financial pressure, new research has found.
A study published by software company TmaxSoft has found that tightening budgets mean councils are unable to pay heavy auditing costs and licensing fees.
In particular, the research has revealed that local authorities are seeing increasing prices for Oracle database solutions and lengthy software licenses coming into place.
The company conducted a Freedom of Information request on more than 75 local authorities in a bid to explore cost and operational burdens imposed by Oracle relational database software.
Over the past few years, local budgets have had their budgets slashed by the central government, which has resulted in many failing to deliver critical public services.
And while auditing software continues to become more expensive and complex to use, councils don’t have the means to employ the right personnel to ensure they’re in compliance with licensing terms.
As a result, many councils may end up operating outside of licensing agreements, and this is likely to affect that way that public data is handled.
TmaxSoft approached 77 councils, and 60 of them responded within the legal timeframe outlined by the Freedom of Information Act.
Of the councils that responded, 92 per cent said they’re currently using Oracle database software. However, as a result of recent austerity, their spend on the software has risen by 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, 20 per cent of UK councils disclosed that they’ve spent more than £100,000 on Oracle products over two years, and 2 per cent said costs have reached £500,000.
Another challenge is that many councils are tied to costly, long-term license agreements. Around 20 per cent of councils said their existing agreement is for over four years, and 43 per cent said it was between one and two years.
Carl Davies, UK CEO of TmaxSoft, said: “The pace of the audits conducted by Oracle must be a concern for local councils.
“It is, of course, the responsibility of the council to make sure that it adheres to the terms of its software licenses.
“But with Oracle auditing just five per cent of councils per year, there is a real risk that some cash-strapped local authorities may be operating outside of the remit of their software licenses without knowing it.
“This could have very expensive ramifications, as councils may find themselves forced to purchase additional, costly licenses from Oracle.
“Many councils find themselves operating within an opaque, rigid licensing system, where they often do not know exactly what they are paying for and how many licenses they need”
He added: “We have seen from our research that, despite the growing number of alternative providers, 92 per cent of the 60 local councils that responded to our Freedom of Information request are still using Oracle relational database software.
“In the era of austerity, where local councils are having to make cuts to all areas of their budgets, it is critical that IT infrastructure deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”
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