Government claws back £249m in ICT savings

Agile project management methods saves millions in Businesslink maintenance

The government has claimed that clawbacks on ICT and digital services costs accounted for £249m of its total £5.5bn savings in the last year.

Savings in spending on ICT and digital services accounted for £104m of savings, with further savings of £145m achieved on ICT project delivery.

The Cabinet Office said that the Government Digital Service (GDS) had enabled significant savings for departments in 2011-12, such as maintaining the Businesslink website for a fraction of its usual cost and re-designing the CloudStore more cheaply and quickly by using “in-house resources” rather than larger service integrators.

A spokesman indicated that the GDS’s adoption of Agile project management methods in maintaining the Businesslink website had alone returned a one-off saving of £6m in 2011-12.

The government said that the £5.5bn savings include £1bn achieved through a moratorium on consultancy spend and on extending existing consultancy contracts. Since 2010 consultancy spend has been cut by more than 85%, the government claimed.

The government said it had also achieved almost £500m in savings by using its bulk-buying power and pooling spend on goods and services used by different departments. This came on top of £360m saved in 2010-11.

In addition, reductions in the size of the Civil Service through stronger controls on non-essential recruitment contributed to a reduction in salary costs for 2011/12 of nearly £1.5 billion.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said that spending controls will be a permanent feature across government to ensure that taxpayer’s money is spent carefully.

“In 2010 we set up an Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office to beef up government’s operational centre and to ensure that Whitehall operated in a more business-like fashion. It’s working well, but we are determined to go even further, because when it comes to spending other people’s money we must always strive to find more efficient and better ways of providing public services.”

The Efficiency and Reform Group recently announced it is bolstering the government’s ability to match private sector best practices by merging the existing procurement and commercial relationship functions within the Cabinet Office into a single Commercial Procurement and Relationships Directorate to be run by chief procurement officer Bill Crothers.

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