Finding opportunities amid the economic slump, Hong Kong-listed information technology service provider Automated Systems Holdings has won more than HK$170 million worth of government contracts during the past five months. They include large-scale projects with the Hospital Authority, which manages the city's public hospitals, and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the agency overseeing local information technology policy and development. 'These sizeable government contracts provide us with a cushion to soften the impact of the financial crisis, which has affected enterprises across many industries,' said Automated's managing director, Lai Yam-ting. 'The government sector accounts for about half of our total revenue.' Mr Lai said the value of government projects secured by Automated between October last year and last month was about 10 per cent higher than the amount it obtained during the same period a year ago. Government information technology spending for the 12 months to March this year was set at HK$5.49 billion, up from HK$4.09 billion the previous fiscal year. According to market research firm International Data Corp (IDC), the government, financial services and telecommunications sectors in the Asia-Pacific will continue to be big spenders on information technology during this economic downturn. IDC estimated the Hong Kong information technology market would manage to grow 2.9 per cent this year to US$5.6 billion, less than the 6.7 per cent projected earlier. The company's strongest competition in tenders for government technology services projects comes from Hewlett-Packard, International Business Machines Corp and PCCW. The Hospital Authority contract, worth more than HK$43 million, is meant to support the authority's Clinical Management System Phase III project, which includes development of a city-wide system for sharing electronic health records, within 48 months starting from January this year. The HK$15.26 million project for the office of the chief information officer comprises the supply and installation of computer hardware, software and related services for the agency's electronic procurement system. A spokesman for Automated declined to identify the other contract the company had won, which included an on-site help desk support service project, a two-year maintenance contract for an electronic document management system and a three-year network support and maintenance contract. Automated, which was founded in 1973, has 1,300 employees in Hong Kong and Macau. The company posted a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue to HK$733.5 million for the six months to September last year. Its net profit, however, fell HK$2.6 million year on year to HK$23.1 million.