Edinburgh Council IT savvy helps ease tax burden

Edinburgh Council has renegotiated its 10-year IT infrastructure with BT to reduce IT costs. The savings have enabled the council to pass on a reduction of £9 per person in council tax bills to the public.

Edinburgh Council has renegotiated its 10-year IT infrastructure with BT to reduce IT costs. The savings have enabled the council to pass on a reduction of £9 per person in council tax bills to the public.

The project, which is set to free up £23.3m in savings over 10 years, will also allow the council to plough back savings into major IT projects.

Andrew Unsworth, head of e-Government at the City of Edinburgh Council, said, "The savings represent 10% of our IT budget and have allowed us to reinvest in a self-service human resources system and a new school administration system."

The savings follow an 18-month project to build a new IT infrastructure based on Microsoft Windows and Exchange.

The council has simplified its IT systems, consolidated its servers and introduced technology to manage IT remotely to reduce technical support costs.

Unsworth said the council previously ran multiple desktop PC configurations, which meant BT needed to do costly site visits each time something went wrong. "Now that we have implemented remote management, 70% of faults can be fixed remotely," he said.

The council has reduced the number of desktop applications from 4500 to just 400, lowering IT maintenance and improving the total cost of ownership of the council's desktop software. "We have implemented a lock-down strategy," he said. All applications are installed remotely and no staff can load software themselves.

BT and the council implemented a major change management plan to consolidate the 4500 applications. "We audited each service area in the council and appointed a co-ordinator who worked with BT to determine which applications were really needed."

The audit resulted in several desktop databases being replaced by Microsoft Access and Adobe replacing a multitude of graphing tools.

Unsworth said the contract with BT has been a long-term partnership. "We are actively looking at shared services where BT and Edinburgh can offer a shared IT services platform and consulting services to other local authorities."

The council is set to review the partnership in February 2008. If it has been deemed to be a success BT will be rewarded with an extended five year contract, providing infrastructre services for Edinburgh until 2016.

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