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Device standardisation could save public sector £500m a year

The public sector could save £500m a year by standardising user device costs, with some departments spending ten times more than others

The public sector could save £500m a year by standardising the costs of user devices, according to HMRC’s end user device programme director Nigel Green.

Speaking at the Government ICT 2012 conference, Green said: “There’s a ten-fold price difference between the cheapest and most expensive devices between government departments.”

 “We can save £100m per year in government, and that’s ignoring the NHS and local government – we could see savings five times that amount if we spread it across local government and the NHS,” he said.

In its ICT strategic implementation plan in October 2011, the government estimated yearly cost savings of £10m from rationalising spending on its 600,000 user devices, which include laptops, desktops and mobile phones. The estimate rose to £30m per year in 2013-2014.

Green added that, as more organisations begin to implement bring your own device (BYOD) policies, there would be a much wider range of devices which government would have need to support.

Ian Levy, technical director at the government’s security arm CESG, told delegates that personal devices would need to retain two separate personalities for BYOD schemes to work in government.  

“In the future it will be possible to do your tweeting and get IL3 e-mail [impact level 3 for information that could compromise the workings of government] and separate those things on the same device. But that is a couple of years away and in the interim we have to manage risk appropriately,” he said.

The government’s move to public services network and G-Cloud would help simplify the security accreditation process, he added. “We can do it right, do it once and use the hell out of it.”

According to Levy, last year 200 government websites were defaced. “That is inexcusable, as it damages the government brand.” He said the Government Digital Service’s move to a single domain for all government websites could be seen as a threat to security, but if it was done correctly would more likely rid the government of its 200 vulnerabilities,” he added.

Also speaking at the conference, Chris Chant, programme director of the G-Cloud, said some like-for-like services on the Cabinet Office’s soon-to-be-announced G-Cloud framework were coming in at 10% of what departments were previously paying.

“We are paying outrageous amounts for IT in some cases. It’s important we generate a competitive marketplace, not what we had before,” he said.

Chant said he expected departments to buy and using cloud services from mid to late February. "My expectation is that from Easter the second iteration of the framework will be out. This time it will enable us to add new suppliers on a monthly basis,” he said. 

“That really sets the scene for things: we’ll have a living framework and dynamic procurement,” he added.

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