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back to article Gov depts to cut back office, IT spending

Several government departments will cut back office services and IT spending under chancellor George Osborne's comprehensive spending review. The departments for education, justice, international development, the Home Office and the Cabinet Office are to reduce their back office budgets as part of the government's plans to …

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Centralize procurement for 'gold' items

It's been divide and conquer for too long. It's time that 'gold' items (operating systems, office suites, core databases, desktop PCs, servers, etc.) were centrally procured to use the scale and credit rating of government.

The likes of Microsoft, Oracle, HP and the service providers, etc have shafted us for too long.

WTF are individual departments doing in purchasing the same old stuff over and over again?

Drag the Microsoft account manager into a room and tell him/her what we are prepared to pay for the whole of central and local government. If he doesn't like it tell him to fuck off and go open source. There's billions to be saved.

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Deep Joy.

Outsourcing, lovely, 'sorry that's not in the contract, mm, yes we can do it but that will be £5000 please.'

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Anonymous Coward

Don't blame the outsourcers

Blame the government for not specifying it in the first place. Pay the outsourcers to do the job and then actually let them do it rather than duplicating all of the work and costs by poking your unqualified nose in all the while.

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@AC

Or even better rather than outsource have a in-house IT department that can implement any change without any extra cost what so ever. Any fool knows that outsourcing contracts are deliberately thin on anything but day to day provision to keep the intial costs down and so that exorbitant fees can be charged for anything outside. The outsourcing equivilant of a supermarket loss leader if you will.

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Unhappy

state of depts IT

is worse than most schools. A friend has worked in 2 seperate national level depts as well as large educational establishments. The edu easily is 10x better.

In the gov depts a lot of the work load is completely paper based still and they spend a lot of time doing searches and looking for lost items... O_o

I think gov depts need more IT, not less. BUT they need to spec'd and then get it peer reviewed by the public and dept. No more under-cover BS where a multination bids on it then puts interns and outsourcers on the project whilst it's paid for and paid for some more and then 50% implemented, as with the usual contact policies.

In summary;

More IT

Less multinational companies (with their interns and foreign outsourcers)

More SME contracts

More Peer/Public review of contracts and project specs

Cap on per hour charges (people charging £250+ p/h because it's the gov need a slap)

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Happy

Hmmm

More Peer/Public review of contracts and project specs you say?

Dear god WHY. That's half the trouble with Govt procurement and contract management these days. You get a bunch of jumped-up Jobsworth's trying to satisfy their own political agendas. And then you end up with a whole bunch of conflicting requirements, that you then have to try to pair down to something doable (within the time frame and budget). But then one or more people who've had input in the requirements gathering process whinge because their precious requirement has been de-scoped. Scope creep is an endemic problem, and it's very difficult to manage once it gets out of control.

Sorry. Rant over. But the point being, you actually want less people involved. But those people have to know what they're talking about.

Same goes if you're writing a piece of bespoke software under the umbrella of an overarching 'IT Provision and Support' type contract - it makes sense to ignore 80% of what the TDAs and Managers want, and actually speak to the people who will be using the blasted thing.

One other thing. I work for one of those 'multinational companies'. We don't have interns or foreign outsourcers, because - surprise surprise - most of the Govt-related contracts and projects require the staff to be security cleared. And that goes for almost company involved in Govt IT contracts.

Aside from that, agree completely. More IT is good, both int erms of efficiency in Government departments, and public sector jobs in the companies that take them on. By all means cap the per hour charges. But PLEASE make sure you've got the right people in there in the first place, and you won't have any problems.

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Procurement is the problem

Add that the cost/effort/complexity of doing a procurement is part of the problem. In commercial companies people can make decisions. In government you can't.

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Paris Hilton

It is the <tan-dan-daahhn> System

@ Wibble

It is the system.

Budgets are usually calculated at last year's level plus a factor for inflation.

There is no analysis of need merely same old same old.

And if that budget is not used this financial year it will probably be cut next financial year because the <tan-dan-daahhn> System is inflexible and requires that it is so.

In more "creative" (cough! -ahem- ) organisation there may be some budgetary elastications where an underspend in one area is shifted to another area but still declared in the first area (if you know wot I meen 'arry) (Usually to pay for ring fenced wage earners(?))

On a positive side:

get in there linux, get in there Open Office. Now is your big chance - don't blow it!

(But I much prefer a Mac anyday)

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds familiar

"And if that budget is not used this financial year it will probably be cut next financial year."

Been there and seen that in the private sector, albeit the research arm of a successful company.

Come the end of the financial year, if we had not spent the budget, we were encouraged to see if there was anything we could spend it on right now (eg general lab equipment out of a catalogue) or if the stuff would take time to arrive to get the order, and hence the invoice, in before the cut-off.

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Anonymous Coward

budget waste

The public sector money that is wasted to ensure that budgets are maintained is simply obscene. But no one seems to question why the money is spent. Ask for something, even trivial that wasn't in the budget and all hell breaks loose!

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Linux

What??

Linux has been in large quantaties in Government departments for many years. Is it actually any cheaper though?

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@Centralize procurement for 'gold' items

Trouble is that if you centralise all the IT then only IBM / CapGemini / EDS etc can bid. Of course these outfits are so efficient, honest and easily beaten down by politicians in negotiations the savings will obviously be huge over allowing a local council to buy a computer from a local supplier.

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Flame

Was it the Reg that reports going NATO std at the MoD would save £9Bn?

Or was that £9Bn per year?

Government call it the defense of the nation

Companies doing it call it the defense *business*.

It's a *business* not a right or some sort of obligation that countries have to source *their* needs from hardware *only* their nation's suppliers (and how "British" is BAe? Like BP didn't they drop the British part years ago?)

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Anonymous Coward

More for SMEs and less for the large IT vendors

The SMEs have suffered because they are easy targets. But its the SMEs that are more concerned about the "public good" when spending tax payers money on IT. This Government really doesn't understand about how to deliver IT - thinks if they get 20% reducrtion from XYZ PLC (global IT company) then they've done a good job! No its about total cost of ownership not contract price.

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Only cheaper if you do less...

All this talk of cutting back office functions, IT, all that... Plays well to the peanut gallery but unless you cut the processes out which those back office functions do then all that happens is that your front line staff get tied up doing the admin, often in less efficient processes than you had before...

A hell of a lot of effort is expended tracking, monitoring, reporting locally to then feed back to local, regional and central government offices. If you cut the amount of this admin work *then* you can start to cut the back office. I don't hear much about real streamlining. This is how we deliver better services cheaper.

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Oh, and on centralised purchasing...

I don't know what planet the people who negotiate OGC contracts are on, but I have been approached several times with offers to buy on OGC negotiated supply contracts for desktops, servers, network infrastructure, etc. and on every single occasion I have managed to get a significantly better price through direct negotiation on my own part. On Hewlett Packard desktops the difference between me buying though Insight.com and me buying through OGC procurement contract was £80 a unit! EIGHTY QUID PER BOX.

OK, centralised procurement SHOULD work but needs someone to oversee it and needs someone to the challenging it. But the Audit Commission is being wound up to save cost so who does this?

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Stop

Don't centralise the contracts..

Since my experiance leads me to believe that what you end up with is a more expensive, less functional contract negotiated by people without a clue about how the real world works and with so many holes that the evil grasping^W ^W outsourcing companies see it as a gold mine that they can dig from without doing any work..

AC for obvious reasons.

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Gates Horns

A Title

How much money do they give to MS each year? Wouldnt it be neat if there were some alternatives that could be considered?

Its funny how even though they are desperate to cut back there are some things that are considered as sacrosant.

Its almost like they have <ahem> other incentives at play eh?

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Centralised, de-centralised, government purchase card

It's all about the f"£king contract.

And the skills (or otherwise) of those in "procurement".

Like the 20 000 in the MoD operation.

What a bang up job they have done over the years.

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Megaphone

UK Cabinet Office says that

'Open Source has been one of the most significant cultural developments in IT and beyond over the last two decades.....'

[...]

'But we need to increase the pace:......'

Policy Documents

Title: Open Source, Standards and Re-use: Government Action Plan

Topic: Open Source Software Policy

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/govtalk/policydocuments/open_source_software/open_source_standards_and_re-use.aspx

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/253407/Open%20Source%20Final.pdf

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