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The government has made savings of £18.6bn in the past year, with at least £1.7bn coming from reform led by the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service (GDS), an internal audit report has revealed.
The government began saving as a result of the deficit caused by the 2008 recession, putting in place steps including renegotiating supplier deals and enforcing temporary limitations on new IT projects to cut spending.
These were followed up by longer-term strategies for saving including increased government transparency and the creation of a Major Projects Authority to control larger projects across government.
“The Cabinet Office is working to help departments reduce reliance on everything from expensive consultants to print cartridges,” said the report on the Gov.uk website. “Across these savings, £1.7bn has come from digital- and technology-related activities.”
According to the report, GDS alone provided a total of £599m of savings through widescale transformation and the implementation of controls.
The creation of the Public Services Network saved £103m, while £391m was saved through “intervention in departmental digital and technology projects”, which including cancelling redundant projects and implementing IT strategies.
Transformation led by GDS was cited to have saved £105m. This included the development of the Gov.uk website, which replaced functionality for more than 21 ministerial websites, as well as Directgov and Business Link, saving money through the closure of needless sites.
GDS also carried out transformational work with respective departments, including with the Department for Work and Pensions on its Identity Assurance programme, the transformation of asset management for the Ministry of Justice, and the development of a database for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The DVLA was also cited in the report for its success for renegotiating its long-term IT contract, saving £57m across the life of the contract.
The report states that a £6.1bn saving was made just by changing the government’s procurement of goods and services, including limiting outsourcing spend and improving contract management.
Transformation was noted as a huge money saver, and the report claimed “transforming how government works” saved £1.5bn. “This includes better managing government property and selling empty buildings, putting services and transactions online, preventing wasteful IT spend and introducing new ways of providing government services,” the report said.
The GDS hopes to save the government more money in the future by establishing a government-as-a-platform model to prevent duplication of services which are commonly used across many government departments and services.