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Crown Hosting Service to save £530m from government IT bill by 2018

Bryan Glick

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is to establish a new Crown Hosting Service to consolidate hosting services across Whitehall departments, with the aim of saving £530m per year by 2018.

In his latest quarterly progress report for the government digital strategy, GDS executive director Mike Bracken said the Crown Hosting Service will be established by the end of this year and work is underway to submit an outline business case. The aim is to centralise the provision of hosting into a single service.

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Computer Weekly has also seen a copy of an “advance briefing paper” prepared for the new Technology Leaders Network of Whitehall IT chiefs, which met for the first time in October.

The paper reveals that central government spent £1.6bn in the 2012/13 financial year in contracting for hosting services across Whitehall departments.

Of that amount, services to support “facilities and infrastructure” worth £0.7bn are considered suitable for initial consolidation, with significant cost savings expected from such a plan.

“Consolidation and migration to a single Crown Hosting Service would result in savings of £530m by 2018/19, with the payback on the initial investment being achieved in less than two years,” said the briefing paper.

GDS is to prepare the business case to seek approval in January 2014. This will be followed by a public tender between March and July next year, to select one or more suppliers to support the Crown Hosting Service.  

The service will be available to all government departments by September 2014.

“Once a number of viable solutions have been developed, it is proposed that a broader number of departments will be profiled to ensure scalability and broader fitness for purpose for transition to the proposed solution at a later point (beyond 2015/16),” said the briefing paper.

A previous plan to set up a hosting framework, known as G-hosting, as a complement to the G-Cloud purchasing arrangement, was “terminated without conclusion”, said the paper, without giving further details.

The Crown Hosting Service falls under the remit of government CTO Liam Maxwell, as part of an initiative called Common Technology Services, which will provide common IT products and services needed by all departments, to help them focus on their own specific IT applications.

Bracken’s progress report also listed a number of other achievements in rolling out the wider digital strategy as more IT services are centralised under GDS’s growing remit, including:

  • Centralising recruitment for all of government’s senior technology and digital roles.
  • Establishing the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the Technology Leaders Network as “the engine for leadership, coordination and delivery of technology”.
  • Developing a new approach to technology governance across Whitehall.
  • Further expansion of the Gov.UK central website and continuing progress on the 25 “exemplar” public services that are being made digital by default.
  • Plans to set up a central user testing laboratory.
  • Helping to increase digital skills across the civil service.

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