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Technology & The Transformation of Public Services

ITU UKAuthority IT in Use March/April 2012

Double Data - Open data and transparency revolution will have profound impact on public sector

Age of Agility ITU • March/April 2012

- Is the government serious about working with SMEs?

Shared Services - The good, the bad and the hopeful future for shared savings

Eyes on the Prize - How do we deliver channel shift, savings and improved services?


PLUS: News Update, ITU Live, View over Westminster and Contracts Won. Won. Contracts







March/April 2012 On the Cover Double Data: Open data and transparency will profoundly impact the public sector.

ISSN 2046 7133


See page 14.

Helen Olsen E: T: 01273 273941


Dan Jellinek E: T: 07748 988092

Special Correspondent

Tim Hampson E: T: 01865 790675

Special Correspondent

Michael Cross E: T: 020 8341 0910


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UKAuthority UKAuthority comprises the online news service, video news, the marketleading IT in Use magazine and ITU Live webinars, and the market information newsletter, UKAuthority Report (formerly Town Hall newsletter). Our core editorial focus is the use of technology to both improve public service quality and reduce service delivery costs across the UK public sector: Central Government, Local Government, Police, Fire and Health.


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Contents Comment


With PSN and the CloudStore bursting into action this spring, there is no stopping the revolution commoditising technology.


Round-up of the latest interviews on

News Update

3-6, 8, 10

Savings and innovation from across the public sector. Launch of the CloudStore and, plus moves towards PSN on the front line.

Special Focus: Communications


Communications clarity for public facing staff.

Collaboration Nation


Trust and collaboration form the bedrock for successful shared services.

ITU Live: Channel Shift


Dan Jellinek reports from the Live debate on how best to encourage citizens to use cheaper, digital, public services.

Shared Trouble


Michael Cross looks at the pitfalls of sharing services and asks what lessons can be learnt from the past.

ITU Live: SMEs & Government


Dan Jellinek reports from our ITU Live, asking if the government is serious about working with small and medium sized enterprises.

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The open data revolution could be the most important public policy movement of our lifetimes, says Michael Cross.

View over Westminster - File Not Found


Tim Hampson asks, when is a private email not a private email?

Contract Roundup


Product & Company News


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March/April 2012

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Challenging times


he big ‘disruptive innovation’ so far this year to hit the public sector and its ICT supplier community is the CloudStore – bringing with it the commoditisation of the technology that underpins the sector and revolutionary transparency on cost and comparison. Our interview with Chris Chant (see right) gives much food for thought, as he urges “brave moves” in cutting loose the shackles of legacy systems and an accelerated move to cloud in these challenging times.

This magazine’s content is expanded and enhanced by our unique online TV channel, bringing you the latest public sector interviews and debate. Current highlights include: THE FUTURE IS SOCIAL: With 50% of the UK’s adult population on Facebook, social media is “no longer optional” for public sector organisations, says Emer Coleman, deputy director for Digital Engagement at the Government Digital Services.

Meanwhile, a more low key revolution has been gathering pace, this one concerning the communications infrastructure that is on the brink of joining, finally, the public sector together: the Public Services Network.

DIGITAL IS THE CLOUD DEFAULT: With the advent of the CloudStore and G-Cloud framework, organisations need to take stock and consider cutting legacy systems loose in the move to cost saving cloud solutions, says G-Cloud director, Chris Chant.

Reports out this month from BT and TechMarketView suggest that whilst those ‘who know’ about the importance of a secure, reliable and robust communications infrastructure to underpin mobile and flexible working, shared services and the move to cloud are firmly committed to its success, the majority of decision makers who must choose to make it happen are unaware of either the programme or its potential.

WARWICKSHIRE TAKES EMAIL TO THE CLOUD: Warwickshire County Council has broken new ground with a brave move to the cloud. Head of Information Assets, Tonino Ciuffini, talks about how the search to replace an email system could provide much needed savings.

The reports are clear that the savings promised by PSN are achievable: the government expects to save ‘up to £500m per annum’ from PSN. And if deals such as Virgin Media Business’ recent one with London Grid for Learning – delivering up to £100m a year in savings - are anything to go by then these savings seem achievable. Local government is truly blazing the trail here, with unprecedented collaboration in some areas, such as Hampshire and Kent, and ambitious regional plans, such as York’s, in the making to provide secure platforms for sharing services and information. The frontline of public services is traditionally more agile and fast on its feet, but progress will inevitably be hampered across the sector by current contract lock-in and the current lack of engagement by key decision makers with the transformational foundation that PSN will deliver for their organisations.

DCLG PLANS MOVE TO GOV. UK: Julian Bowrey, deputy director of corporate communications at the DCLG and responsible for the department’s digital estate, is already planning the move to the single government domain,

Indeed, there is no denying the potential for improved services, efficiencies and major cost savings from making PSN happen – let alone the base for innovation it will provide. It is a ‘no brainer’ to those that ‘get it’.

BIG SOCIETY JOURNEY FOR THE PUBLIC AND THIRD SECTORS: As the Big Society gathers pace UKAtv talks to Hulya Mustafa, CLG Deputy Director for Big Society Strategy, who aims to break down the barriers that crop up on this new journey for the public sector.

But as TechMarketView’s Tola Sargeant, says, “The bigger potential benefits associated with innovative new services running across the PSN will not be seen for a number of years yet.” Which will make investment arguments difficult. BT’s Neil Rogers says that it is time to “stop talking technology” and focus instead on the wider benefits: “We have a job to do on communicating the citizen benefits. PSN is an enabler, not the end point.”

PSN DELIVERING BENEFITS ACROSS CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Noelle Godfrey, head of IT at Cambridgeshire County Council and member of both the Local CIO Council and the PSN Steering Group, says that PSN is the shape of things to come.

It is the compelling, overarching vision that has to be imparted to non-technical decision makers across the public sector; however, persuading the unconvinced to invest in this in these austere times will be no easy task.

Helen Olsen, Managing Editor

Tune in now on

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March/April 2012



Tri borough scheme boosts savings target


he flagship London shared services programme, involving Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils, has scaled up its savings target to £40m a year across the three boroughs by 2015/16, up from a previous forecast of £33m a year. A new tri-borough progress report was tabled on 7 March during a meeting between the three councils’ leaders and Communities secretary, Eric Pickles. Savings achieved in the first year include cutting by half the number of senior and middle managers across the three boroughs and combining children’s services, adult social care and library services. Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, said, “We have reduced management costs by 38% including

Smartphone liberation at Technology4Good awards The power of smart mobile devices and mobile apps to help people with disabilities to lead independent lives took centre stage at the launch in March of this year’s Technology4Good awards. The awards are designed to encourage digital inclusion by public bodies, businesses, charities, schools, social enterprises and individuals. They are

sharing a chief executive. Through shared contract arrangements, we are driving down the price of the services we buy. These backoffice savings mean we have been able to cut council tax in Hammersmith & Fulham and our partner boroughs are freezing theirs, all without the service cuts seen elsewhere. At a time when other councils are looking to close libraries, we have kept all our libraries open.” Pickles hailed the initiative as the shape of things to come. “This report shows how councils can make sensible savings through sharing back office services, joining forces to procure and cutting down on middle management whilst protecting frontline services. “The success of the tri-borough programme is testament to the innovation and forward thinking of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea.”

hosted by e-accessibility charity AbilityNet with support from BT, Barclaycard, Charity Technology Trust, IT4Communities, Microsoft, RaceOnline2012 and UK online centres.


apgemini’s 2004 contract to run IT systems for HM Revenue and Customs is the latest trophy to be claimed by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude’s renegotiation drive. According to a Cabinet Office announcement, the supplier has agreed to shave £200m from its charges over the next five years. Announcing the renegotiation, Maude also said that overall spending on goods and services across central government will fall by £8bn over the two years from 200910 to 2011-12.

Capgemini’s Aspire contract dates from 2004, when the company replaced EDS as the main IT contractor to HMRC. The £2.8bn contract, originally for 10 years, was extended two years ago to 2017. According to the announcement, the new deal will save in excess of £200m by 2017 by: • Cost savings: £200m saved by paying less per unit of IT services provided; • More freedom: HMRC will now have more control to run open competitions for its IT needs, enabling more opportunities for innovative SME suppliers and greater control over the volume of work going through the contract; and • Greater transparency - transparency in pricing is enhanced further to assist with value for money comparisons. The sweetener for Capgemini appears to be an opportunity “to adapt its services and delivery model to align much more closely with the government’s ICT strategy and its drive for a more competitive IT market place”.


March/April 2012


he Scottish government says it has turned a new page in its desire to be more digitally friendly by publishing information on the forthcoming independence referendum which is readable on a Kindle or an iPad. Cabinet secretary for parliamentary business, Bruce Crawford, said that Scotland is the first administration in the UK to make an official publication available so it can be downloaded onto an iPad, iPhone, Kindle, smartphones, Android tablets and other e-book devices. The latest development will now act as a pilot scheme for future digital distribution of Scottish government documents. The idea is to improve access to important public files and drive down print costs.

Awards categories include digital inclusion; accessibility; innovation; community impact; IT volunteering and fundraising. The awards are free to enter and the deadline for submission is 18 May 2012.

Maude claims £200m squeeze on Capgemini

© Paul Clarke

Scots, wha hae wi’ Kindle read

UKAuthority IT in Use

Excel still mission-critical to local authorities


inance executives in local government depend overwhelmingly on spreadsheets rather than on real-time data, according to a survey. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) says that 78% of local authority finance professionals are reliant on spreadsheets for budget monitoring. The findings emerge from a survey of 87 professionals carried out in partnership with Advanced Business Solutions. The Local Authority Budget Manager Survey 2012/13 reveals that 46% of respondents take more than one day to produce revenue budget reports and 24% take more than two days. The top three budgeting priorities highlighted by survey respondents include cutting the authority’s costs (92%), gaining an accurate picture of real-time spending against budget (56%) and giving more responsibility to budget holders (51%). Dean Dickinson, managing director of Advanced Business Solutions, described the findings as “Concerning. Spreadsheets are prone to inaccuracies, cannot provide real-time financial information and are very cumbersome and time-consuming to manage.” The good news is that 79% of survey respondents said they expect their budget monitoring processes to improve over the next three years.


Minister talks up telecare

Somerset gets tough with outsourcer and brings back 160 staff



elecare is emerging as a central element in the government’s claim that it can maintain a joined up health and social care service following the NHS reforms in England. Paul Burstow, minister of state for care services, used a keynote speech at the second international congress on telehealth and telecare to lambast the “confused, disjointed, fragmented mess” of today’s health and social care system. “Up until now, each part has organised itself around its own needs. Hospitals around what a hospital needs. GP practices around what GPs need. Social care providers around what they need,” he told the conference at the King’s Fund in London.

By contrast telehealth and telecare systems allow services to be integrated with the person in the middle and working out, Burstow said. He flagged the headline findings from a government-funded controlled clinical trial, the Whole System Demonstrator, as “staggering”, which include: • • • • •

20% fall in emergency admissions 15% fewer visits to A&E 14% fewer elective admissions 14% fewer bed days 8% reduction in tariff costs

He also highlighted as “quite unexpected and truly extraordinary” a 45% difference in mortality rates between individuals using telehealth and those in the control group. Full findings of the trial are to be published in the British Medical Journal, he said. Burstow also stressed the potential of new technology to save money. “By keeping people out of hospital, by reducing the time they’re there when they have to be and by being far more targeted and efficient with the use of NHS resources, we estimate the widespread use of telecare and telehealth could save the NHS up to £1.2 billion over five years.”

omerset County Council is to bring back in-house 160 staff who were outsourced to the private venture, SouthWest One. The decision was taken after a series of council reviews into the firm’s performance concluded that it was failing to perform. The company, which employs 650 exSomerset council staff, was set to © iStockphoto/ Ann Taylor-Hughes save the council more than £190m in 10 years. It has lost the county council more than £31m and is so inflexible that it is making the job of finding savings even harder, a council report found. County council leader, Ken Maddock, said that the failure was not of the staff at the council or those of SouthWest One “This continuing failure is not about you. It is about the contract, the complications, the failed technology, the missed opportunities, the lack of promised savings. It is about SouthWest One itself, not about the people working for it.” HR advisory, pensions, development and learning functions will be transferred back to the council, while recruitment, payroll and HR administration will stay with SouthWest One. The transfers of staff and functions will coincide with the new financial year 2012-13.

Doctors to prescribe ‘appy’ pills


eople could soon be directed to free or cheap apps by their GPs to allow them to monitor and manage their health more effectively, said Health secretary, Andrew Lansley, at an event showcasing the best ideas for new and existing health smartphone apps. “So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch. I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm,” said Lansley. “Information about your health is a service – just like the GP surgeries, walk-in centres and hospitals that millions of people access every week. With more information

UKAuthority IT in Use

at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat. “Innovation and technology can revolutionise the health service, and we are looking at how the NHS can use these apps for the benefit of patients, including how GPs could offer them for free.” The most popular app ideas were to help: • manage long-term conditions such as diabetes • people deal with post-traumatic stress • track and monitor conditions such as high blood pressure • people find NHS services on a map • get practical information about keeping fit and eating healthily.

March/April 2012



Council websites failing on top tasks

Cloud app store launches public sector IT buying revolution


ocal authorities are failing to focus web services sufficiently on making the most frequently-requested user tasks easy to perform, according to the latest annual review of all UK council sites published by the Society of IT Management (Socitm).


he biggest change in IT procurement for a generation has begun with the opening of an online catalogue of cloud-based services. CloudStore is a catalogue of more than 1,700 information and communications services from 255 suppliers available to the UK © iStockphoto/ Jakub Jirsák public sector. All the services listed on the CloudStore are part of the G-Cloud procurement framework, so are immediately available for the public sector to procure and use, the Cabinet Office has announced.

The G-Cloud strategy aims to save £3.2bn of the government’s annual £16bn spend on IT. Services available include infrastructure as a service (IaaS); platform as a service (PaaS); software as a service (SaaS); and specialist services such as configuration, management and monitoring. Suppliers listed include some very familiar names like Atos, BT, Capita as well as Google Ireland Ltd (offering among other products Google Maps API) and Microsoft Ireland with the company’s Azure cloud storage system. The government’s own FCO Services trading fund offers security, vetting and assurance services. Around 50% of the names on the list are SMEs. The CloudStore website warns against attempting to run a mini-competition between suppliers - “these are commodity services and the CloudStore contains all the information required to select from the suppliers that best fit your needs”, it states. Industry watchers praised the innovation for speed and transparency, but raised several potential concerns. Tola Sargeant of TechMarketView said that CloudStore “is designed very much as a ‘catalogue’ for commodity products - it’s difficult to compare companies on the basis of anything but price”. A second version of the Cloudstore is already being planned to allow new software and services to be offered continuously, G-Cloud programme director Chris Chant told UKAuthority. tv. The second iteration will go live in April, allowing his accreditation team to add new suppliers and services on a monthly basis, in contrast with a traditional rolling framework agreement that typically might have lasted for several years and only been renewed on fixed timescales, Chant said.

Outsourcing and grants for blue light IT services

an eight-year saga of delays and ballooning budgets.


The systems will improve the handling of emergency 999 calls and speed up response times. Fire authorities will now, typically, be able to instantly identify the locations of callers and locate vehicles automatically. However, three areas - Avon, Cleveland and North Yorkshire - must do further work to bring their plans up to scratch before funding is awarded, in theory by the end of June.

K emergency services organisations will commit more than £1bn worth of services to outsourcing and shared services ventures in the next two years, according to a report from Pierre Audoin Consultants. The report cites a ‘perfect storm’ of unprecedented cost pressure and the need to protect and modernise front line services. This applies even to IT functions previously considered too ‘mission-critical’ to hand over to third parties, a spokesperson said. On the same day the report was published, Lincolnshire police announced a £200m, 10-year deal to transfer IT, business process and support services to private contractor G4S. Ten other police authorities have expressed interest in joining the shared services scheme. Meanwhile the government has announced grants totalling £81m for new IT systems for fire and rescue services, bringing to an end


March/April 2012

Overall, council websites have shown a ‘modest improvement’ since last year in a live assessment of tasks, according to Better Connected 2012. However performance has fallen in several key areas, which could lead to extra costs as people phone call centres instead of using cheaper online self-service routes, the report finds. Most councils achieved a basic benchmark standard for more than half the top tasks assessed, though two gave particular problems: ‘Renew library book’ and ‘Object to planning application’. Difficulties in these areas were caused by the use of specialist third-party software such as searchable databases for planning applications and online library catalogues which are often poorly integrated into the design of the council’s main website and become confusing to use, the report finds. This year, 23 UK councils achieved ‘four star’ ranking, the top level possible, compared with nine last year. Meanwhile an annexe to the report found that some 88% of councils now have at least one kind of social media account, with many having not only corporate but multiple service or project accounts, tailored for specialist communication. Within the overall figure, 84% of councils (363) have at least one Twitter account, compared with 73% last year; and 73% have at least one Facebook account, compared with 62% a year ago. But as well as corporate accounts, subsidiary accounts found relate to a wide range of services from waste and recycling to museums and the arts, plus feeds dedicated to specific types of update such as planning applications (located on maps), jobs and emergency alerts. Birmingham City boasts the most social media accounts, with 62 official accounts in Twitter and Facebook with a total overall of more than 70,000 followers. The report recommends that councils publish details of their social media accounts, and of their acceptable social media use by staff.

MAPPING MILLIONS: Val Purkis, GIS manager, Bristol City Council (left) and Linda Mawby of South Gloucestershire Council receive a National Gazetteers Exemplar Award for a project to better manage public sector property assets across the South West using web mapping and commmon data formats. The partnership is using local authorities’ Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) addressing information to provide a system of common reference to map assets from local authorities, fire, police and NHS across the region and help rationalise their accommodation requirements, in a move expected to save local taxpayers around £1.5m a year. UKAuthority IT in Use


Comms Clarity for Public Facing Staff The public today has very high expectations of service delivery from local authorities and other public sector bodies. Meeting these expectations with exemplary service delivery is a constant challenge for the public sector and the customer facing staff in the front-line. This is particularly true of staff working in call centre roles or who engage with the public via the phone. The ability to hear clearly what is said and being understood without repetition can prevent an irritated caller becoming confrontational or even abusive.


ennheiser has a legacy of 65 years as experts in acoustics and audio technology. The German company has a global reputation for high quality headsets and microphones used in professional broadcasting, music industry and aviation all of which demand high quality speech and audio. Using Sennheiser professional grade headsets avoids compatibility issues with existing equipment, reduces operator fatigue and diminishes the potential for confusion between the caller and operator. Sennheiser professional headsets have some unique design features that provide significant advantages for staff in public facing roles using the telephone. One of the most important advantages of Sennheiser headsets is the company’s patented ActiveGard technology. It’s an unfortunate fact that public sector staff can suffer from malicious calls, which are usually harmless. But there are also aggressive calls made with the intention of hurting and possibly permanently harming the staff member’s hearing. Blowing whistles or using more sophisticated electronic devices to deliver an acoustic

shock are rare occurrences, but can be devastating for the recipient. ActiveGard technology is embedded in all Sennheiser telecoms headsets and detects unsafe audio levels and compresses the signal within milliseconds. ActiveGard doesn’t just reduce, but rather removes dangerous energy from an acoustic burst, eliminating the distortion from an excessive incoming signal and keeping the volume of a sound peak at a safe and comfortable level to protect the user’s hearing. A busy office can be a noisy place and to address this Sennheiser offer a range of corded and wireless headset solutions featuring high performance ultra-noise cancelling microphones to filter out unwanted background noise. The benefits to public sector workers of high quality sound and the elimination of external noise which are offered by sophisticated headsets cannot be overstated. The resulting improvement in intelligibility can greatly improve call efficiency, saving valuable time by reducing the risk of misunderstanding and average call duration. Wearing comfort is another critical consideration, particularly in contact centre environments where workers may be wearing the headset for eight hours a day or more. Sennheiser has undertaken extensive ergonomic research to ensure that the design of its professional headsets are optimised to provide all day wearing comfort. Sennheiser recently introduced the CIRCLE Line series of wired headsets for call centre and office workplaces which incorporate all UKAuthority IT in Use

these important design and safety features. To withstand the stresses and strains of a busy call centre CIRCLE line headsets are fitted with a reinforced metal headband designed to last for years. Productivity features include a noise cancelling microphone to filter out ambient noise for optimum speech clarity, and Sennheiser HD Voice Clarity wideband sound to ensure a more natural sounding experience. The CIRCLE Line series has already been awarded an ‘Office Oscar’ by Office Equipment News magazine, which reported that “Sennheiser headsets excel in sound quality, durability and comfort which are essential in any environment where the user will have medium to heavy call usage.” Many workers will benefit from mobility solutions which allow them to answer and participate in calls on their desk phone when away from their desk. Sennheiser’s DW Series of wireless headsets are the perfect solution, offering 180 metre range (line of sight), twelve hours of talk time and fast charging, with four hours talk time in just ten minutes and full charge in one hour. Sennheiser headsets are available in a choice of monaural (single sided), binaural (double sided) headband and single sided ear-loop wearing styles to suit the needs of all users. Sennheiser has also invested heavily in research and development to ensure that headsets are optimised for simple installation and are simple and intuitive to use.

Free trials of Sennheiser headsets can be arranged for public sector organisations. To know more call 0800 1303955, email or visit

March/April 2012



ICO fines top a million


he total of financial penalties imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under new powers has now exceeded £1m, with the bulk of the money - which goes to the Treasury’s consolidated fund - coming from local authorities.

child to the wrong recipient.

Two more local authorities were fined last month despite both councils taking swift remedial action when the data breaches were discovered.

The cases were made public just days after five other English local authorities Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, Dacorum Borough Council, Bolton Council and Craven District Council - were punished for data protection breaches.

Croydon Council was penalised £100,000 after a bag containing papers relating to the care of a child sex abuse victim was stolen from a London pub; while Norfolk County Council received an £80,000 penalty for disclosing information about allegations against a parent and the welfare of their

Both councils have taken remedial action as a result of the breaches and will now ensure that effective data protection measures are put in place.

Recently it emerged that the commissioner has submitted a business case to the government to ask for an extension of powers to make mandatory audits of organisations.

‘Fair and reasonable’ open standards policy


he government’s strategy for creating open and interoperable information systems across the public sector will include “fair and non-discriminatory” use of proprietary products, a consultation has indicated. The move prompted accusations that the coalition government’s early enthusiasm for fully open systems has been attenuated following industry lobbying. Introducing the consultation, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said that open standards are crucial to the government’s strategy for improving the effectiveness of public sector IT systems while cutting their cost. Lack of interoperability, the consultation states, “makes it difficult for the government to reuse components, switch between vendors and products or to deliver

efficient public services that leverage the value of government information, for instance through the provision of interfaces that allow delivery partners to build on government information services, delivering more innovative solutions”. Industry watchers detect a considerable watering down of earlier open standards policies. A previous government definition of open standards, withdrawn in 2011, required “intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis”. The consultation closes on 3 May with a new policy on open standards for software interoperability, data and document formats in government IT procurement promised for later in the year. is up, accessible and welcoming critics


beta version of the planned single government web domain has been posted at with feedback sought from all users. For the first time the site, created by the new Government Digital Service (GDS), is billed explicitly as an intended replacement for Directgov.

The site is designed to offer a simpler way in to the 667 most frequently used transactions with government (roughly the same as those catered for by Directgov). Top of the list is ‘getting a tax disc’. Among the innovations is a function that detects the user’s probable location, in order to direct questions like ‘rubbish collection’ to a deep link in the correct local authority website. The new site has been found to be highly accessible to users with special access needs including disabled people, unlike its prototype ‘Alphagov’. The technology access charity AbilityNet carried out some early testing for, pronouncing itself pleased with the results. Léonie Watson, an accessibility consultant hired by GDS to lead accessibility work on Betagov, said that some of the improvement was down to use of British Standard BS8878, a code of practice aimed at building in accessibility to decision-making at all stages of the web development process, including recording all relevant decisions taken. Work is also under way to create British Sign Language versions of the site’s video content.


March/April 2012

UKAuthority IT in Use

Media entrepreneur leads open data city audit An audit of open data activity by local authorities in England’s largest 40 cities is being carried out by the organiser of the UK’s first open data cities conference, with initial findings to be revealed in April. The event’s organiser, journalist and internet entrepreneur Greg Hadfield, told UKAuthority that he is approaching council chief executives and senior officers in English cities with populations of more than a quarter of a million people to examine their open data strategies and find out who is driving them. His ambition is to forge a network or ‘standing conference’ of cities that will help them to draw together data from public bodies, transport companies, housing providers, local businesses and others for the benefit of all social sectors. Initial findings will be unveiled at the Open-data Cities Conference Hadfield is organising in Brighton and Hove on 20 April.

Power of the cloud to tackle crime


low-level crime reporting system created independently by an entrepreneur could help the police to unlock the power of crowdsourcing and cloud computing to solve some of its IT efficiency problems. Facewatch is the brainchild of Simon Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Wine Bar London’s oldest, dating back to 1890 - who was frustrated by the practical difficulties of reporting petty crime quickly and effectively. The web-based system allows business to take witness statements and upload details including CCTV footage in officially approved formats, and it can also cancel credit cards. Police forces access the same system and can then decide whether or not to pursue the case and an official crime number is issued back. Direct email communication is also initiated by the system between the police and the victim. Police update the crime status throughout the investigation and can use the system for secure messaging. Trials last year in the Victoria Business Improvement District and Westminster areas of London resulted in an increase in detection rates from 5.1% to 8.8%, plus savings in police and victim time and costs. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents is to be the first national sponsor and official partner of Facewatch, enabling over 16,500 independent shops to participate.


Collaboration Nation In the age of austerity, councils have no choice but to look into the possibility of sharing services. But while it’s a major change, the process needn’t be painful: once trust is built, cash savings, doubled productivity and improved self-service for the user are all possible.


etting the right technology in place is among the secrets of successful shared services uncovered in a new minidocumentary and published report by, ‘The first steps: bringing a culture of trust to shared services’. The film follows up recent research which found that for local government, police, fire and health services as a whole, “sharing services is an absolute requirement as funding is significantly cut”. More than half of the 479 senior respondents to the survey were already involved in the planning or implementation of shared services. Several current leaders of successful shared services are interviewed including Geoff Connell, chief information officer for the shared IT service of Newham and Havering London boroughs. “Building trust is absolutely critical,” Connell says. “Organisations won’t work together unless there is a degree of trust, and trust is earned and built over time.” Paul Taylor, director of change and communities at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, says: “Trust is earned, and it’s easily given away. Part of the issue of trust is around communication. It’s around communicating frequently, communicating honestly, and openly as organisations and down through our individual structures. “The key thing for us was how the actual shared service would take place, and strong leadership was one of the big things that came out. So having the chief executive there and the chief officers working together, and also the members involved as well, was important.” In the UKAuthority research, eight in 10 respondents thought that technology was an important means of underpinning and enabling shared services. “Technology is fundamentally important in a shared service, and it’s an easy way to start,” says Matthew Stammers, director at Capita. “What you can do is align your technology platforms to start with. That allows you to make savings immediately through economies of scale.”

and Weymouth and Portland – has already delivered £1.2m reduction in the councils’ combined annual budgets. This has led to two of the councils – West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland – to share further services, in a move estimated to deliver further savings of £2.5m a year. WestWey partnership manager, Stuart Dawson, told UKAuthority that leadership and communication were the keys to success. “We had buy-in from the top, and the chief executive led in many of the areas. Communication both externally and internally is key. Staff are fearful of the unknown and will always want to be kept informed as to progress. “We were able to share skill sets across the partnership, and by joining staff together we noticed that where we had gaps in one council they were filled by the skill sets from other councils.” If change is not pushed through too fast, staff will therefore begin to see opportunities rather than threats, Dawson said. “We have focused on evolution rather than revolution. As a result of that we’ve been able to take staff with us, because there’s not been massive change in the way they work and operate. Some councils will be reluctant to enter into partnership because of fear of losing identity, [but] in our experience that’s not the case.” Another successful current project is Compass Point Business Services (CPBS), a private company which is wholly owned by East Lindsey District Council and South Holland DC. Marcus Hobbs, transformation director at CPBS, says that shared services projects combine three activities: business process reengineering; IT procurement to underpin this; and strong ongoing management. He says that one clear sign of their own success has been a doubling of staff productivity since the company was formed. “So that’s in just over a year, with new systems still not fully bedded in... the fact of the matter is that the staff have engaged with the process. And through that, by increasing the level of focus, by taking out those unnecessary steps, we have doubled the productivity which means it is sustainable in the longer term. “I think staff are excited to be part of something very innovative, very new, and want to share in that journey.” A third successful pioneer is the South Worcestershire Revenues and Benefits Shared Service which is saving £1.3m a year for its three partner councils: Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon. As well as revenues and benefits it also covers building control and IT services. Vic Allison, deputy managing director at Wychavon, says that moving to a single IT system was key. “The pooled investment can buy you better technology, and the shared service is the catalyst for that change also - so we have been able to invest in quite a lot of new technology, including self-serve for our customer base. So there’s a customer benefit as well as efficiency gains for the councils.” This point is key: shared service might save money, but cutting cost is not the only driver. The research found that seven in 10 respondents also see opportunities for innovation, service redesign and improved service quality in the move to shared services. “Local authorities cannot continue to run the same types of services in the same ways,” says Capita’s Matthew Stammers. “What we’ve seen is that organisations that just get on with it find it builds trust, and they build from there.”

To view the documentary visit: For a free copy of the report, ‘The first steps: building a culture of trust to deliver shared services in the UK public sector’, email

The WestWey Partnership delivering a shared revenues and benefits service between three Dorset councils - Purbeck, West Dorset UKAuthority IT in Use

March/April 2012



Justice CIO gets whole government portfolio


ndy Nelson, in charge of one of the government’s most radical IT-based reform programmes at the Ministry of Justice, has been named as central government’s next chief information officer. In a brief statement, the Cabinet Office said that Nelson would take over from Joe Harley, who is due to retire from the civil service at the end of March. Nelson will hold the role alongside his existing position at the Ministry of Justice, where he oversees the effort to computerise courts. The department is also conducting a £300m IT contract for the prison and probation service as part of a transition to a new model of IT procurements. The new deal will replace the current National Offender Management Service’s IT contracts, which expire in 2012. Nelson is also senior responsible owner for the government cloud programme, a key component of the government’s ICT strategy. He is the fourth person to hold the title of government CIO, following Harley, John Suffolk and Ian Watmore, now permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office. It is understood that the recruitment process did not involve external advertising.

Government cuts billions but “much more” needed


entral government costs have been cut in real terms by 2.3%, or £7.9bn, in 2010-11 compared with 2009-10, the National Audit Office has reported. The watchdog says its findings support the Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group’s estimate that the coalition’s spending moratoria and efficiency initiatives, including cuts to back-office and avoidable costs, contributed around half of the figure, some £3.75bn. However, the report warns that departments are less well-placed to make the long-term changes needed to achieve the further 19% to 2014-15 required by the spending review. Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “Departments will need to cut their spending by much more over the next four years. This will not be possible without their recognising that short-term measures are not enough and that fundamental changes are needed. “Departments will achieve long-term value for money only if they identify and implement new ways of delivering their objectives, with a permanently lower cost base.”


March/April 2012

York runs fibre rings around telecoms elephants


ork City Council has become the enabler for a local ‘fibre ring’ carrying superfast broadband, in a move which could leapfrog the city to the forefront of UK technological innovation. The initiative was born out of rationalisation of the city’s public network spending. “Eight years ago we were running separate networks for schools, © iStockphoto/ Maciej Gowin libraries and traffic control,” Roy Grant, ICT director at York, told the recent Government ICT conference. “Then we had the idea of pooling finances, and tested the water to see what might come back. When it went out we had no idea we would have a fibre footprint.” But fibre is what emerged as the most attractive solution, and in a deal with UK specialists Pinacl and CityFibre Holdings it has part-funded the laying of a fibre ring of more than 100 kilometres to connect 110 sites. Sites include schools, libraries and NHS facilities. The network can support symmetrical bandwidth speeds of up to 10Gbps. “With a fibre footprint, bandwidth problems are forgotten - it takes a while to get your head around it and think about what is possible,” says Grant. Early projects planned include using the network to enable free city centre wi-fi; moving all CCTV onto the network; and exceeding the national target for broadband access (with the government pushing for 90% of homes to have access by 2015, York will offer 95% access by 2014). It could also help to launch a planned local TV channel, he says. But the real value of the network will be in connecting homes and businesses outside the public sector’s involvement, Grant said. “The public sector is just a customer, it kick-starts the project and other investment is found - we do not own or manage it. But the network has capacity and capability to deliver fibre to the home and businesses, and will hopefully attract many new businesses to York.”

Whitehall refusing to probe cartel claims, say MPs


he government has failed to respond to a parliamentary call for an investigation into claims that large systems integrators operate in the manner of a cartel in public sector contracts, a Public Administration Select Committee report has found. In a follow-up report into last summer’s ‘recipe for rip-offs’ investigation into government IT, the committee warns that, despite good intentions, the government is not doing enough to prevent future project failures. The report calls attention to ‘unacceptably poor benchmarking of government spending on IT’. It also proposes more efforts to promote ‘digital by default’ public services, including rewarding civil servants for using social media to promote digital channels to public services. Bernard Jenkin MP, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that the government’s response to the original report had been “generally constructive” but “it does not suggest that the government yet grasps how much must be done. The problems in IT procurement go deep and require major changes. This can only be achieved by bringing in IT UKAuthority IT in Use

executives and buyers from large and small companies, who understand what they are buying and the innovations on offer. This expertise cannot be contracted out.” ‘Government and IT - a recipe for ripoffs: time for a new approach.’ A further report, with government responses. Public Administration Select Committee.

Public sector ‘better than private’ at being flexible Public sector managers and workforces are working more flexibly than the private sector, both in terms of setting work policies and in the communications tools they use, according to new research. Siemens Enterprise Communications, which commissioned the research, says the public sector is more effective than many private companies at coping with economic austerity and disruptive events such as the London Olympics. The research also reveals that the public sector is showing signs of adopting more sophisticated ways to collaborate and make efficiencies, and found that 65% of public sector organisations have agreed flexible working policies with their staff.


Eyes on the Prize Online services are cheaper, so public bodies are keen to increase their uptake, ITU Live listeners heard this month. The prizes for success are bigger than mere cash, but there are some deeply-ingrained cultural barriers stopping joint working and data sharing that must be tackled first.


ith public sector spending cuts running deep and showing no sign of letting up, shifting as many services as possible online has become imperative. With users able to help themselves to online information and services 24 hours a day, major cost savings are there for the taking compared with alternative, expensive, telephone or paperbased systems. The process of moving more services online – ‘channel shift’ – has several components to it and all need to be in place to maximise the overall effect, panellists told viewers at this month’s ITU Live broadcast ‘Channel shift: designing online services that citizens will choose over other channels’. “In our private lives we have got very used to using digital services… citizens expect that same service quality from government. And actually we haven’t been keeping up with that pace of change in the private sector to meet those needs,” said Felicity Singleton, head of digital policy at the Government Digital Service. She added that it was “a game of catch up that is being pushed by the efficiency agenda right now, and there does appear to be that sweet spot where the two come together - there is a real opportunity to make that change”. Matthew Stammers, director at Capita, agreed: “It is very simple, the government talks about Digital by Default, but we would much rather talk about Digital by Choice,” he said, before adding that there were opportunities not just for cost savings but, in some cases, for revenue generation from new digital services – such as library lending. All agreed that service improvement was as important as cost reduction. Indeed, Singleton said that their complete focus at GDS was to put the citizen first and foremost.

Stammers added that if you understand what the citizen wants first, then design the efficiencies around that – you will avoid the trap of delivering beautiful online services that nobody really wants. “You need laser-like focus on making it easy, so when users go online to do something they don’t drop off in the first 30 seconds. Because they won’t come back again. On the other hand, unlike with some low-cost private sector online services, such as budget

Martin Ferguson Helen Olsen Policy & Research Managing Editor Director, Socitm UKAuthority

airlines, public sector bodies do need to help lead users through an online service including offering a telephone support line: “We have obligation to give choice – it’s not like Ryanair.” Singleton said that the government’s new ‘beta’,, had followed an approach of identifying what the main user needs were for information and services, and then making sure that they were all easy to find.“We called it the Needatron – we came up with over 600 top needs derived from statistics and partly talking to departments. So now it’s very task-oriented, what people want to do is come in and out very fast and get information - like when is a bank holiday, or how do I claim my benefits.”

Matthew Stammers Director, Capita

Felicity Singleton Head of Policy, Government Digital Service

place applications and free school meal registration online – as an example of work which has focused on showing people how new services can help, rather than just exhorting them to use the internet. Where the value of an online service is clear, concerns about digital inclusion – the fact that not everyone has internet access at home – begin to recede, Singleton said. “With Connect Digitally, once they had convinced people of the benefits, not having home access wasn’t the barrier we expected it to be,” she said. “People went online at work, at a friend’s house – they found a way. So the cultural point is more significant than some of the other barriers that we might think will be there.”

The site looks to serve these needs primarily by presenting a search box which knows what terms to expect, Singleton said. She acknowledged, however, that to date there has been a lack of clear information on how far and fast government agencies have been moving services online, making it hard for agencies to benchmark their progress. “We’re looking this year at how we can standardise this across government. We’re going to need to do that to drive savings.”

Indeed, the cultural blocks - particularly those within a public sector organisation - can be strong, warned Ferguson. Singleton agreed, adding that the sector had a culture of ‘fear’ towards sharing. “More than that, it is a cultural thing. We’re very siloed in our delivery. Even within departments we don’t always link up those services, so across departments it’s even more challenging.”

The public sector Society of IT Management – Socitm – already advocates a ‘top tasks’ approach to web services, and operates a ‘channel value benchmarking service’ to help councils benchmark channel usage and cost, said Martin Ferguson, policy and research director at Socitm. “We collect and analyse customer data that helps identify routes to cost savings through channel shift,” he said. “How do costs compare with other similar councils? How could your council save more?”

Within an area, the local authority can be well placed to take the lead in helping to join up all the various different public services that need to work together online, Ferguson said. “We see the local authority as having a leading role in its locality. That doesn’t mean it needs to do everything, just to facilitate working between the local authority, voluntary groups, health service – it’s about co-ordinating those in a way that makes sense to the citizen, taking that lead as the democratically accountable body in the locality.”

Metrics of all kinds are valuable, Stammers said, but it is important too not to get bogged down in statistics and figures. “What is really important is simply to track progress in shifting services across: “It comes down to – what percentage of people are using services online?”

The economic climate means that public bodies have no choice but to succeed in shifting more services online, but ultimately the rewards on offer extend much further than cost savings, Ferguson said. If public bodies can really work better together, they will finally begin to join up services and focus them around the citizen in a way that has now been the dream of policymakers for decades: “It’s about going for the real prize.”

In moving services online, the technical aspects are in many ways the least important, Ferguson said. The tricky bit is to change people’s mindsets – both among users and your organisation’s staff – to build trust and confidence in new ways of doing things. He cited the Connect Digitally project – which has helped councils move huge percentages of some services such as school UKauthorITy IT in Use

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March/April 2012



Shared Trouble Shared services initiatives are on the rise again, fuelled by an imperative to cut costs, writes Michael Cross. But not all shared projects have met with success. Can the next generation learn the lessons of failure?


o far, it has not been a good year for shared services - a crucial element of the government’s efficiency programme.

Last month, one of the most ambitious crosssector initiatives so far attempted, Somerset’s Southwest One venture, suffered the humiliation of having a founding council announce it would be taking 160 staff back in-house in 2012-13. The joint venture company, set up in 2007 by Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Avon and Somerset Police and IBM, has been under the spotlight since a change of political leadership in the county in 2009. Ken Maddock, Somerset’s leader, was quoted as saying: “We have bent over backwards to try to make this partnership work. But we have to state clearly that our primary duty in looking after the public’s hard earned money is to make sure we get the best possible deals, that we get the best possible value for the public’s money. I have to say that Southwest One is failing this test.” Maddock said that the council will now accelerate an extensive review of everything it does. “Almost half our most vital services are carried out by private sector or not for profit organisations - we will look to increase this where appropriate. We will encourage social enterprises, partnerships, communities and voluntary groups to get more involved in what we do and what we run. We will look to put the customer at the heart of what we do,” he said. “We will do this whilst we continue to do all we can to make Southwest One work.” One focus of the investigation will be on the SAP system put in to streamline purchasing at Southwest One; and the month’s other bad news story for shared services also figures big enterprise software systems often criticised as inflexible. In a well-reported investigation of Whitehall shared services centres set up following the 2004 Gershon review, the National Audit Office found that five shared service centres have cost over £1.4bn, an overspend of £0.5bn on their budget. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems used in all the centres “are complex and have proven to be expensive”, the NAO found. Four of the centres use an Oracle system, and one (the Department for Transport) uses SAP.


March/April 2012

The NAO notes that ERP “works most effectively with large volumes of heavily automated transactions”. However such volumes have been difficult to generate, even in Whitehall departments and agencies. “With a lack of scale and usage in some centres, limited standardisation and low levels of automation, the cost to establish, maintain and upgrade these systems is high,” the NAO notes. “As a result two centres intend to totally re-implement their existing systems with simpler, standard ERP software, despite the significant investment already made.” The NAO also found that that signing up ‘customers’ - even within the same Whitehall family of agencies - has been more difficult than expected and there has been little sharing between departments. Only four agencies and the central department have become customers of the Department for Transport (DfT) centre since it started operations in 2007. One potential customer, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, wanted to use the centre but was unable to because at the time it was not accredited to use the Government Secure Intranet. Of the migrated transport agencies, two do not use the full suite of shared services; the Highways Agency has maintained its existing Oracle finance system. Because not all the agencies that DfT envisaged in its original business plan use the centre, it has needed to subsidise the centre to the tune of £7.2m in 2010-11. “We found shared services to be more complex than we expected,” the report concludes. “They are overly tailored to meet customer needs. This limits the ability for the centres to make efficiencies as they have an overhead of running multiple systems and processes.” In short, persuading even agencies from the same department to share has been fraught with difficulty and there has been “little actual sharing” of services between departments. The report concludes on an up-beat note: the Cabinet Office’s latest vision for central government shared services involves just two cross-government shared service centres, based on existing transport and DWP centres, and a small number of stand-alone UKAuthority IT in Use

© iStockphoto / Kuzma

centres. “The Cabinet Office team will oversee the transition of the services currently in departments to the independent centres by the end of June 2014. When this is complete, the Cabinet Office will govern the delivery and report benefits realisation of all shared services across central government.” However, continues the report, “without a mandate, we do not think that coherent shared services are likely to be achieved”. Undaunted by the bad news, the flagship London shared services programme involving Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils, announced it had scaled up its annual savings target to £40m by 2015/16, up from a previous forecast of £33m a year. The three published their progress report during a meeting between the three councils’ leaders and Communities secretary, Eric Pickles. Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “We have reduced management costs by 38% including sharing a chief executive. Through shared contract arrangements, we are driving down the price of the services we buy. These back-office savings mean we have been able to cut council tax in Hammersmith & Fulham and our partner boroughs are freezing theirs, all without the service cuts seen elsewhere. At a time when other councils are looking to close libraries, we have kept all our libraries open.” Pickles hailed the initiative as the shape of things to come. “This report shows how councils can make sensible savings through sharing back office services, joining forces to procure and cutting down on middle management whilst protecting frontline services.” He hailed the success as “a testament to the innovation and forward thinking of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea”. No doubt that’s true. But bold leadership - which was certainly evident at the beginning of Southwest One - is only part of the story. There may be no alternative to shared services, but that’s not the same as saying we’ve got the formula right.


The Age of Agility

Stephen Allott, Crown Representative for SMEs

Andy De Vale, Founding Member Agile Delivery Network

Is the government really serious – at long last – about working with small and medium-sized ICT businesses? What are the challenges to overcome? Our ITU Live panel debates innovation, agility and whether the ‘think big’ mindset in government can ever really be changed.

Mary McKenna, Director Learning Pool

Mark Foden, Director Foden Grealy


raditionally, it has simply been too hard for small technology firms to bother bidding for major government contracts, Mary McKenna – director of the Learning Pool, a small e-learning firm – told ITU Live.

“Big companies spend four months in dialogue with government about a tender, asking questions and honing their bids to win,” McKenna said. “Small companies are not at the table having the dialogue, so they don’t think they’re going to win, so they don’t invest the time and energy trying.”

this voyage of discovery you can’t do that. They just need to make sure the people they are hiring are good, then the target is just to develop their stories... Then you check on how they’re doing - are they going in the right direction?” Mark Foden, director of management consultancy Foden Grealy, said that one piece of the puzzle is to stop using external consultants to help scope and run procurement processes for IT systems, to help change mind-sets and modernise practices in-house. “The government has said it will stop spending large amounts on support for letting contracts to big consultancies and the effect of that will be responsibility for running those contracts will be in house.

Andy De Vale, co-founder of the Agile Delivery Network of small businesses pitching together for government work, said that government has also tended to put its trust in economies of scale. “The natural outcome of that is you work “This will mean people in government building with bigger and bigger contracts, and bigger up their understanding and skills. and bigger service providers. But You will end up with a better job, now they are recognising that and costing much less.” there are new ways of delivering software that large companies Even in-house procurement teams simply haven’t been able to keep up with, techniques around qual- Helen Olsen, Managing Editor, must make sure they are close to the parts of their department that ity, delivery and deployment.” UKAuthority will actually be delivering services, De Vale warned. “When you’re building softTo take advantage of these new techniques ware, it’s all about communication, having a government must be willing to experiment common understanding between the user and treat risk in a different way, De Vale said. and the people who are putting the system The old method means coming up with rigid together. In the traditional way of doing things, answers about a project early in its life-span, it’s not uncommon for there to be six degrees then handing away delivery risk to a large of separation between the people receiving company and paying a substantial premium for the value and people putting it together. How that, he said. Working more flexibly using open we think it’s possible to have that degree of standards can deliver significant systems separation and still produce a coherent prodquickly and effectively at low cost – “savings uct that meets needs is beyond me.” can be orders of magnitude greater” – but it requires a change to government as a client The full horror of overly-bureaucratic profrom the earliest stages of deciding what a curement systems was revealed by McKenna new project will do, to getting funding and putwhen she told how her firm had once tendered ting a team together. for a piece of work through a European procurement exercise which took two years, won Stephen Allott, who as ‘Crown Representative the contract – and ended up having to walk for SMEs’ has been tasked by David Cameron away even so because it took too long to get with helping small firms win more public a final contract in place. The mere length of contracts, said that government was very time taken by processes such as framework interested in those “order of magnitude” cost contract bidding made participation almost reductions, for obvious reasons. But that it impossible, she said. was hard for them to change. “The puzzle for the public sector is that they are used to specifying exactly what they are getting in advance, but when you go on

Allott said the government had been working hard to make the procurement process quicker and simpler. UKAuthority IT in Use

There was a new target to get all procurement down to fewer than 120 days, he said; G-cloud will make a huge difference, with more frequent tenders; contracts under £100,000 are now published on the Contracts Finder website, and pre-qualification questionnaires have been abolished. He also revealed an unusual tool: “Our main weapon at the moment is something called the supplier feedback service, also known as mystery shopper. Any supplier who is bidding to government and thinks something inappropriate is being done can complain to the supplier feedback service in the Cabinet Office.” The team can then act immediately, including naming and shaming guilty parties online, he said. “That is proving a very powerful way of getting change.” It was also important to bust a few myths about the level of risk associated with using smaller firms, said Allott. “Everyone is scared about whether small companies disappear, but I’ve asked around for examples of this actually happening and I’ve hardly heard any.” Big firms like banks, on the other hand he pointed out, seem to go bust all the time. Ultimately, for agile ways of working to take root, the people at the top of the civil service will have to feel comfortable with it, De Vale said. “A lot of very senior people in the public sector have made their careers on a particular way of working, and if we want to change that, people will feel insecure, it’s not how they understand risk and investment. “They need to see examples of where this is happening in the real world and they need to understand why this is bringing value.” The answer is to start small, said Mark Foden. “The way to make big change happen is to make it happen in small places and make people see it. Create the right DNA and it will replicate itself, and it will replicate quickly.”

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Double Data COMMENT: The open data revolution could be the most important public policy movement of our lifetimes, according to one government adviser. Michael Cross examines two new thinktank reports analysing how this might happen. © iStockphoto / loops7


ou wait all year for a think tank report on open data, then two come along in a week. Both are inspired by the current government’s initiatives in transparency. Both hail the potential of the ‘big data’ revolution to transform public services for the better. However, they take very different approaches about how the public sector should respond to the challenge. The Data Dividend, by Demos, sounds a warning that the government’s transparency revolution will fail to transform public services without investments in technology and skills. Casting a sceptical eye on the government’s plan to create an ‘army of armchair auditors’ empowered by access to data, authors Max Wind-Cowie and Rohit Lekhi say: “We do not oppose the ambitions of transparency and public and civil engagement - but we argue that this must be accompanied by radical changes to how government collects and collates data so as to ensure that public servants are part of the story too.” Delivering on the transparency promise “is fraught with difficulties - practical, political and ethical”, they note. For a start, the lowhanging fruit, represented by fairly straight forward information such as mortality rates from cardiac surgery “is by no means representative of the broader picture of data”. The report, sponsored by SAS UK, a supplier of business intelligence system, calls for more investment in technology, starting with handheld terminals for front-line public sector workers, as well as data stores, modelled on the London Data Store. It urges government to invest in ensuring that every unitary authority and/or census area has a single platform through which to publish data generated by public agencies covering the area. Such hubs “will enable localised innovation, will engage the ‘civic long tail’ and will drive levels of oversight and ‘armchair auditing’,” the report states. The total bill for equipping each unitary authority in England and Wales with a London Data Store platform would be less than £3m, it says. However this is only part of the input required. The report also calls for investments in


March/April 2012

analytic skills, beginning at school, and especially in the public services.

responding to its users and meeting the needs of individuals and businesses?

“We need a public sector that has a ‘can do’ attitude to big data, is experimental and inventive about what can be achieved and has the instinct to innovate and to publish. Government must see the value of data, their transformative potential... or run the risk of becoming ever more remote and redundant to citizens,” it concludes.

The report proposes establishing “a lighttouch public data scorecard for assessing the progress of individual public sector bodies”. Overall, however, author Chris Yiu is forthright in calling on public sector organisations to make data available free, for use by all comers. The first step is for every public sector body to define its core task and proactively publish all data collected through that - with the exception of data relating to private individuals or harmful to national security.

Just a few days later, in a research note entitled ‘A Right to Data’, rival think tank Policy Exchange takes a more gung-ho approach. It urges the government to implement its new ‘right to data’ promised by Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, and to get out of businesses charging for products based on public sector data, such as maps. The loss of such income would have a “minimal impact” on public spending, the report says. Policy Exchange agrees that some cultural and organisational reforms will be needed by the public sector to handle the move from status quo to open data. One is the need for a way of understanding their organisation’s performance and tracking progress towards open data. “Simply counting the number of datasets published, hits on a data website or downloads of different files will not be sufficient,” it states. “Although these sorts of metrics are (relatively) easy to get hold of, when they become targets or success criteria the impact on incentives in an organisation can be perverse and counterproductive.” Instead, the report says that heads of public sector bodies “need to track a much deeper sense of the extent to which the principle of open public data is being adhered to in their organisations”. It proposes three measures to get the ball rolling: • Leadership and culture: to what extent is open public data embedded in the mindsets and behaviours of the people in the organisation? • Accessibility and technical: how far has the organisation leveraged proven technical tools to deliver on its open public data agenda? • Community satisfaction: how well is the organisation’s open public data activity UKAuthority IT in Use

So-called “core reference data” – maps, postcodes, timetables and statistics – are now an integral part of the fabric of economic life and should be classed as part of the nation’s digital infrastructure. Government-owned businesses operating in this infrastructure should be spun off, the report says. Revenue from privatisations (if properly handled) would offset some income lost from ending charges for data. However the report stresses that this does not mean all public data activity should be privatised. “Indeed, we argue in this note that there is a strong efficiency case for the public sector to collect or create the data it requires to execute the public task. But where products or services are built on top of this data, we know that once the early development phase is over, a competitive market is likely to do a much better job than a public sector monopoly at driving cost down and quality up.” Overall, the report estimates that its recommendations can be implemented with minimal impact on the public finances. Meanwhile, the potential benefits for the economy and public administration would be huge. Policy Exchange may be pushing at an open door. “Sharing data – transparency – may turn out to be the most important public policy of our time,” the government’s open data tsar, Tim Kelsey, writes in the report’s foreword. And while there’s much sense in the Demos report - gathering accurate data and interpreting it does pose challenges - the Policy Exchange’s approach is more likely to launch the big data revolution.


File Not Found When is a private email not a private email? When it’s sent to an official adviser... or so it seems.Tim Hampson writes on the growing controversies surrounding government transparency, freedom of information and ministerial ‘private’ emails.


hen it comes to transparency the government’s position is not always clear.

The education secretary Michael Gove recently found himself in front of the education select committee answering questions about disappearing emails. A former journalist, and regarded as one of the government’s rising stars, he found himself trying to answer a question from Labour MP Lisa Nandy about whether he’d ever used private email accounts for the business of his department. Had he, or had he not? The matter was not straightforward. The use of private emails to discuss official business has been of concern since newspaper reports last year revealed that personal email accounts were sometimes being used by officials, political advisers and ministers for government business. The Financial Times made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request for details of emails between Gove and his special advisers dealing with departmental business sent using private email accounts. In an era of mobile working, the difference between a work email and a private one is not that easy to define as people flip between laptops, PC and smartphones to send and receive messages. However, according to leaked emails, one of Gove’s advisers told DfE officials that he would no longer respond to enquiries on his official email address, and urged them to do the same. At the time ministers appeared to believe that private email addresses were not covered by the FoI law, and the education secretary resisted the release on that basis. However, information commissioner Christopher Graham was having none of it, and in a ruling that must have sent many in Whitehall scurrying to check their various outboxes, he ruled that Gove should release details of messages sent on his personal email account. As the emails contained details of government business, Graham ruled, they were covered by the FoI. The ruling is regarded as a blow to all members of the government who use private

emails. According to some sources ministers and their advisers often communicate via private emails, thereby stopping civil servants – who may not be politically sympathetic – from seeing them. “It’s a question of security”, says one adviser. “If we didn’t use emails in this way, Labour-supporting officials would be leaking information all the time.” In Gove’s case he had been using his wife’s personal account, named ‘Mrs Blurt’, rather than his departmental account to communicate with his advisers. A spokesman for Graham said: “The commissioner’s decision is that the information amounted to departmental business and so was subject to freedom-of-information laws, being held on behalf of the department for education. “The department is now required either to disclose the requested information - the subject line of the email and the date and time it was sent - or issue a refusal notice in accordance with the FoI Act giving reasons for withholding it.” The department for education now has to decide if it wants to lodge an appeal. A spokesman for the department said they were “studying the decision notice” and that they were considering an appeal. Furthermore, the department has pointed out that not all emails are automatically retained. A Department for Education spokesman said: “Emails are not automatically considered an official record. Special advisers are not required to maintain records of deleted emails. All civil servants routinely delete or archive emails, taking account of their nature and content.” In further defence of his actions, Gove said he had been following advice he received from the Cabinet Office. Nandy duly attempted to obtain some clarification on this issue from the cabinet secretary, Francis Maude: in a written question the Wigan MP asked if Maude would publish the guidance issued to the Department for Education on private emails and the Freedom of Information. UKAuthority IT in Use

© Paul Clarke

Maude’s answer was not that helpful. He said information relating to internal discussion and advice is not normally disclosed. It doesn’t seem that long ago, well last July, that Maude promised a “quantum leap in transparency” with plans for more information on all government activity to be published. At the same time prime minister David Cameron said, in a letter to cabinet colleagues, that transparency could be a “powerful tool to reform public services, foster innovation and empower citizens”. The Campaign for Freedom of Information has been less than impressed by the goings on and has welcomed Graham’s decision. A spokesman for the campaign said: “The decision closes off two potentially vast loopholes which would have allowed industrial scale evasion of the FOI Act. “The commissioner has made it clear that government business carried out via private email accounts is subject to FOI - otherwise all departmental business would have switched to hotmail accounts. Information about ‘political’ discussions is also covered by the Act, contrary to the department’s claims. “What is protected is ‘party political’ material, which is deemed to be held on behalf of a political party rather than government itself. The business of government is always political. That cannot be enough to remove it from FOI.” Since failure to release information under the Freedom of Information Act can constitute a criminal offence, the whole affair continues to raise serious questions about what information should or shouldn’t be in the public domain. However, the government might have found a new way of keeping the lid on information. According to a Ministry of Justice report, journalists and members of the public seeking information are a ‘drain’ on public resources and should be charged for obtaining information under the FoI Act. This is another curious development, given the Coalition’s commitment to being the “most transparent government in the world”. March/April 2012



LOCAL GOVERNMENT BATH AND NORTH EAST SOMERSET COUNCIL will improve purchase-to-pay efficiency by implementing an intelligent data capture solution from Version One. DbCapture is being piloted in one of the council’s largest departments in April with full go-live expected by October. The product will be integrated into the council’s Agresso Business World enterprise resource planning system from UNIT4. It will automatically capture 70% of data from 50,000 purchase invoices processed by the council every year. BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL ICT service is sharing internal best practice across multiple service desks with Hornbill Supportworks. The council has over 6,000 IT users ranging from staff at county hall in Aylesbury, to those in remote offices, to mobile users such as social workers. By sharing its Hornbill service management capabilities across the three service teams, the council has been able to reduce costs, share knowledge and best practice and provide a consistent method of handling customer queries. GREAT YARMOUTH BOROUGH COUNCIL has saved thousands of pounds in a matter of weeks following introduction of street lighting software from Mayrise Systems. The system flagged streetlights that don’t work or have previously been removed but were, in some cases, still being charged for, while some lights on a metered supply were also being charged on a fixed rate contract. HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM COUNCIL is to install a new fraud prevention initiative in a bid to tackle the growing problem within its local housing sector. The Experian system is expected to be able to cross-match tenancies, waiting and temporary accommodation lists, and also lists of housing providers to look for evidence of the same tenant or cooccupant resident in another provider’s housing. CARLISLE CITY COUNCIL is attempting to maximise the benefits of urban green spaces using a digital tree map layer created by Bluesky. The data collected has been used by the council to inform a new ‘green strategy’ to secure and maximise the benefits from parks and green spaces in the city. The map is derived from the most accurate and up-to-date aerial photography.


March/April 2012

ISLE OF MAN COUNCIL is using detailed 3D survey data captured by the mobile laser mapping system, StreetMapper, in its capital city, Douglas. The millimetre accurate measurements collected will be used to support ambitious regeneration plans including the relaying of lines for the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, revised seafront parking and a project to enhance the appearance of the resort’s footpath and roadway. ISLINGTON COUNCIL is rolling out Becrypt Trusted Client to 3,000 employees for secure remote working. Becrypt Trusted Client is carried on a key fob USB device and allows staff to use their home PCs to connect to the office safely without any risk of data loss or leakage, and no risk of virus infections or cross contamination. The product has full CESG accreditation for the handling of data up to Impact Level 2, which covers most local authority level data. ISLINGTON COUNCIL is using LogiXML business intelligence software to help improve its ticketing and revenue raising. Placing Logi Info at the centre of the parking enforcement system’s management processes had a dramatic impact on the ways of working. The reporting system now scans 2.5 million records in only 1.6 seconds. ROYAL BOROUGH OF GREENWICH has awarded Northgate Public Services a contract to manage its server infrastructure in the council’s new datacentre. The new ICT platform will speed up the day to day functioning of the council, including improving benefits processing, and collecting council tax and parking enforcement charges. SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL has opted for Vemotion to extend the capabilities of its existing CCTV network by deploying low bandwidth video transmission capabilities as viable and cost effective means of monitoring the cameras installed at outlying locations from its 24/7 monitoring centre. SOUTH BUCKS DISTRICT COUNCIL has signed up to a seven year contract for revenues and benefits services from Northgate’s Midlands Regional Business Centre - a partnership between the supplier and South Derbyshire District Council. The managed service will help South Bucks to improve enquiry-handling and fast track benefit claims. SOUTH LANARKSHIRE COUNCIL legal services has awarded Civica a contract to improve case management, time recording and court bundling using the Civica Legal case management software platform. The council’s legal services team had identified a business need for a modern case management recording system to meet the high service demands involved in processing over 200 cases per month in the core legal function. The new processes will provide staff with more efficient and accurate access to specific case data. UKAuthority IT in Use

SUFFOLK is benefiting from an £11m programme to link up schools, libraries and county council buildings across the county with a single high speed network from MLL Telecom. So far 219 schools and 48,815 children have been linked into the Next Generation Network (NGN) programme. The programme has been managed by Customer Service Direct (CSD), a joint venture partnership between Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and BT.

STOCKTON-ON-TEES BOROUGH COUNCIL is to implement Agresso Field Force to better manage the activities of its 50 engineers in its heating, ventilation and electrical department. The solution will integrate with the council’s existing Agresso Local Government Platform and provide a single solution for the HV&E department to manage asset maintenance, inventory management, contract management, resource allocation, regulatory reporting, time/billing invoicing, and mobile workforce communication in the field. SWINDON BOROUGH COUNCIL has launched a bespoke database system from Milldata Computing for its supporting people department, which manages local government funding for vulnerable adults. The new database replaces an existing system that was over-complex and a significant expense to the council. WARRINGTON BOROUGH COUNCIL is using its Local Land and Property Gazetteer database to underpin a project to identify differences in social and geographical inequalities. The ‘Closing the Gap’ programme brings together key public sector partners, as well as representatives from the third sector and local businesses, to develop new ways of working together to help support the most vulnerable citizens. Information derived from the LLPG was combined with social marketing information, crime, health, education and emergency services data to identify those areas requiring attention. WIRRAL COUNCIL has gone live with Concerto Projects’ management software for its strategic change programme - providing it with a corporate view for managing the programme’s finances, risks and issues with comparisons of planned versus actual, providing a streamlined and effective programme control and reporting process. Project managers can use it to build their project plans, assign resources and record progress.


SHARED SERVICES ALL 32 SCOTTISH COUNCILS, plus two of the country’s largest housing associations, have confirmed they will use a contract with Scotland Excel for the provision of telecare. Six suppliers have won places: Chubb Systems, ICare, Jontek, Possum, Tunstall Healthcare and Tynetec. The contract will be open initially until the end of December 2013, but could be extended by a further year. The forecast spend for each participating local authority is about £3.4m a year, equating to £10.2m over the term of the framework, including the extension period. Scotland Excel said that a price comparison exercise showed annual savings achieved through the framework across local authorities will range between just below 1% up to 15.4%. The average saving will be 8.8%. NORTH EAST PROCUREMENT ORGANISATION has offered Comensura an extension of its collaborative temporary workforce framework contract for a further two years. The extension consolidates the partnership between Comensura and NEPO which has been in place since 2009. To date, eight out of the 12 authorities in NEPO have worked with Comensura via the NEPO framework. In addition, two other public sector organisations in the region, NHS Business Services Authority and Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service, have used the framework to procure temporary labour through Comensura. NORWICH CITY COUNCIL has agreed a business support service from LGSS. The shared service set up by Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire county councils to deliver business support services, will provide IT, finance, and revenues and benefits services to Norwich subject to final contract negotiations. The deal makes LGSS one of the only public sector shared services to be expanding outside its geographic region. The five year contract will see approximately 110 Norwich City Council employees transfer to LGSS, with Norwich becoming a branch office for the shared service.

STOCKTON-ON-TEES and DARLINGTON borough councils have gone live with a cloud shared service using Shared Journey from UNIT4 for finance and accounting in ten academy schools. The deal offers schools a subscription-based finance, HR and payroll transactional shared services that includes shared technical IT and operational support services. The cloud based application allows councils to rapidly scale to meet demand while the academies pay only for what they use. There is no capital outlay and no redundant capacity.

HEALTH DIRECT HEALTH is rolling out an electronic call monitoring solution from Advanced Heath & Care, which includes iConnect, StaffPlan Roster, StaffPlan Monitor and Orange airtime, following a successful three month pilot. The contract with Direct Health, home care provider across 18 sites in the north and Midlands, is Advanced’s biggest call monitoring order to date, with 2,000 care workers planning to use iConnect and 200 staff expected to use StaffPlan Roster. FYLDE COAST MEDICAL SERVICE is one of the first out-of-hours primary care providers in England to pilot the Department of Health’s new initiative, NHS 111, using Advanced Health & Care’s Adastra system. In November 2011, NHS 111 went live across Lancashire (except West Lancashire) as part of the first phase of a four phase pilot. Cumbria will receive the service early in 2012. HARINGEY COMMUNITY SERVICES and NHS NORTH CENTRAL LONDON CLUSTER have joined with CAMDEN PCT, CAMDEN & ISLINGTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST AND ISLINGTON PCT to create one of the largest managed shared services offerings in the UK, signing a £4m contract with 2e2 for its managed ICT service platform. 2e2 has delivered a successful relocation of 240 servers to the new data centre which it helped to design and commission.

GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL CHILDREN’S CHARITY is working with Zuhlke Engineering to create a charity customer relationship management system. Currently the charity’s ageing fundraising database system is struggling with the daily volume of thousands of supporter transactions. Zuhlke Engineering is helping the charity to understand exactly what it requires and will advise on new solutions to enable it to streamline its fundraising supporter information and donations.

MEDWAY COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE is implementing the newly launched Advanced Community, from Advanced Health & Care. Medway will roll out the solution in a phased approach to a wide range of services, from health visitors and community nurses to speech and language therapists and dieticians, providing over 700 members of staff with access to the new system. MEDWAY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST has partnered with CSA Waverley to create a leading edge virtualised server, storage and network infrastructure – utilising HP Converged Infrastructure. The new IT environment, supported by Kent and Medway Health Informatics Service, is expected to reduce the trust’s revenue and operational costs, increase efficiencies and reduce environmental impact with less power and cooling consumption. The trust will also be able to accelerate deployment of new services and applications, supporting over 400,000 patients. NHS INFORMATION CENTRE has awarded a six-year contract to EMIS to develop a secure data extraction service covering all EMIS practices in England. Under the contract, EMIS will provide a data extraction service to support the new national General Practice Extraction Service, a centrally managed system that will obtain information from GP practices across England for specific, approved purposes, using robust information governance principles to ensure patient confidentiality and privacy. The EMIS data extraction service will be developed and managed through a new division, EMIS IQ. NHS LOTHIAN is using videoconferencing technology to improve patient care. Over the past 18 months it has been working with unified communications specialist Polycom to improve efficiency and convenience, as well as cut costs. Although videoconferencing had previously been used for internal meetings, staff felt the technology could be exploited to improve patient care. Videoconferencing is now being used to run virtual physiotherapy sessions, follow-up sessions for sleep therapy patients and allow remote clinicians to participate in meetings. NHS NORTHAMPTONSHIRE is implementing Civica’s SLAM (Service Level Agreement Manager) software platform. SLAM, an integrated commissioning support tool, improves the visibility of business rules that are applied to data such as Point of Delivery (POD) allocation and local pricing and the management and control of reference data. NORTHERN IRELAND’S DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY has awarded a 10-year contract for finance, procurement and logistics systems to Advanced Business Solutions. The deal, worth £17.3m, is on behalf of the Health and Social Care Board. The department says it plans to standardise and streamline HR, procurement, and logistics processes across the organisation and its agencies.

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March/April 2012



EDUCATION CITY & GUILDS, the qualifications and exams board, has chosen Azzurri Communications as its strategic telecoms partner. The first engagement in this relationship is for a £900,000, three year contract. Azzurri will consolidate four existing telecoms suppliers (covering mobility, IP telephony, audio/videoconferencing, calls and lines and support) into one managed service to deliver cost savings and reduce complexity. HASTINGS ACADEMY has awarded a £1.3m managed service contract to Northgate Managed Services, which will develop, design and manage an ICT infrastructure to promote active learning to the academy’s 900 students. This will include new hardware and software, wi-fi, audio visual equipment and a cashless catering system operated using latest biometric technologies. JANET, the UK’s national education and research network, has announced a framework agreement with Liberata IT Solutions to supply data centre and cloud services to the higher education and research community. The company will be providing its UK-based ISO27001 accredited Cloud and Data Centre services, designed to offer the higher education and research community a set of innovative solutions that are smarter, cheaper and greener. NORTH EASTERN UNIVERSITIES PURCHASING CONSORTIUM (NEUPC) has selected Softcat to supply, install and support integrated audio-visual systems to 24 universities. Potentially worth £15-20m, the new regional contract for universities is the second that Softcat has won with NEUPC since it made a commitment last year to expand and grow its service offering into higher education institutions and the wider public sector. WOODBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL in Essex has chosen the Dell KACE systems management appliance to meet its IT and asset management needs. The system is aimed at providing better ICT support, as well as power management savings estimated at £14,000 since installation. ANGLIAN WATER is deploying Jabbakam in the fight against metal theft – and to increase security for its staff. If and when

GOVERNMENT & AGENCIES an incident occurs, Anglian Water would be able to use the Jabbakam video evidence, made available immediately from the internet, to pursue the perpetrators. Conventional CCTV systems are often stolen or vandalised by the criminals, meaning the video evidence is destroyed or stolen. With Jabbakam all video data is immediately transmitted offsite, via the internet, and therefore can’t be destroyed or physically removed from the site. FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY has signed a contract for the supply of ICT with Capita’s Secure Information Solutions. The contract, worth £19m over five years, will deliver improved services, while creating efficiencies for the FSA. Under the terms of the contract, Capita will provide managed ICT services across all five UK offices of the Food Standards Agency in London, York, Cardiff, Aberdeen and Belfast. Services include desktop support, server and data storage and network infrastructure, all coordinated through a dedicated Capita service desk. MINISTRY OF JUSTICE has placed a £5m, four year national call-off contract with Traka to provide UK public sector prisons with secure biometric key and radio management systems. The new system means keys will be accessed, monitored and audited electronically, saving time and improving security. Prisons implementing it will see keys stored within secure cabinets, accessed by biometric fingerprint matching. Each keyset is equipped with an intelligent Key iFob®, which is tracked by Traka’s Key and Asset Management software and provides extensive management reporting and tracking capabilities. NS&I, the government national savings organisation, has selected three companies – Atos, Capita, and Hewlett-Packard (HP) – to proceed to the next stage in the procurement process for its new operational services contract. This follows NS&I issuing an OJEU notice in November 2011. NS&I outsourced its back office operations to Siemens IT Solutions and Services, now Atos, in 1999 under a competitively tendered public private partnership. It is a statutory requirement for NS&I to undertake this procurement to replace the existing contract which expires in 2014. HIGHWAYS AGENCY has signed a four-year contract worth £2.27m with Yotta DCL. The supplier will survey and monitor approximately 140,000km of individual lanes on motorway and other major roads across England, using its Tempest highways data capture vehicles to carry out the survey, and participate in the development of new algorithms to produce more accurate modelling of the road surface deterioration.


March/April 2012

BLACKPOOL COUNCIL’S new solarpowered Parkeon Strada off-street Pay & Display machines accept chip and PIN credit/debit cards and coin payments. They are also equipped with contactless card readers, anticipating the introduction of contactless payment-enabled mobile phones and the continuing roll out of wave and pay bank cards.

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OFFICE OF THE REVENUE COMMISSIONERS, the Irish government’s agency for tax and customs administration, is using Actian’s Vectorwise product to provide speedier reporting systems, enabling it to discharge its taxation responsibilities more efficiently. ONLINE COMPUTER LIBRARY CENTRE (OCLC), an international library co-operation network, and THE COMBINED REGIONS, the UK library network, have announced that a national public library catalogue has now been rolled out to all libraries that subscribe to their UnityUK resource-sharing system. The intent of this penultimate stage in the project is to give UnityUK member libraries a chance to offer feedback. When it is complete the project will see the launch of Britain’s first freely accessible national online library catalogue for public use. RAF LEEMING base residents will soon be enjoying high speed broadband service with speeds of up to 10mbps, thanks to a community broadband initiative. The families located at the RAF station suffered from non-existent or extremely poor broadband services. The new network provided by ilovebroadband uses the NYnet fibre connection at the nearby primary school, to feed the wireless network across the married quarters. THE POST OFFICE is to assist in the expansion process of the HOME OFFICE biometric identity scheme using its sites for the initial fingerprinting and photographs to help double the number of individuals required to hold biometric proof that they are legally permitted to remain in the country. The new system will allow employers and public authorities to access Biometric Residence Permits through an online service to help run checks on individuals where required. A total of 400,000 individuals a year will be expected to hold Biometric Residence Permits.



Largest supplier to help minnows



entral government’s largest IT supplier, HP, has announced a politically astute initiative to help small firms win government contracts.

The multinational firm, whose multi-billion-pound outsourcing contracts became a focus for critics of the last government’s IT policy, said that its ‘robust plan of support’ for SMEs is the first by a large systems integrator. Helping SMEs to win government contracts is a key element of the coalition’s ambition for ‘agile’ and innovative public sector IT. The ICT strategy published by the Cabinet Office last year promised several measures to reveal details of government contracts and cut bureaucracy and costs. In response to the government’s call to ‘tap into SME innovation’, HP UK’s managing director, Nick Wilson, said that the company would: • Revamp its own procurement process to establish an approved suppliers list for SMEs and appoint an ‘SME champion’; • Increase the use of SMEs in its own supply chain; • Launch a new award “to inspire and reward growth among SMEs”. Prizes include hardware as well as access to wider HP resources. HP claims to have more than 600 SMEs in its UK supply chain, representing nearly 10% of spending on suppliers. The company aims to increase this to 15% by the end of 2013 by adding a further 150 SMEs.

MAYRISE BREAKING DOWN PROCUREMENT BARRIERS FOR SMES: Welsh Assembly finance minister, Jane Hutt, has announced a change to Welsh public procurement policy making it easier for smaller IT businesses to get through pre-qualification to bid for public sector contracts. Announcing the final release of the Supplier Qualification Information Database or ‘SQuID’, Hutt explained how this approach was developed by the Value Wales division of the Welsh Government in conjunction with the Welsh public sector. She said: “The roll out of SQuID will help us to break down barriers for smaller IT suppliers and ensure that all Welsh businesses, regardless of their size, have access to public sector contracts.” MANAGING BOOKS MORE EFFECTIVELY: OCLC has launched OCLC WorldShare License Manager, a new service to help libraries meet the increasing challenges and complexities of electronic resource management. It will help library staff more effectively manage the selection, purchase and availability of databases and e-resources. This new service consolidates link resolution, subscriptions, licences, vendor, access and rights management to enable Webscale management, discovery and delivery of licensed and electronic resources.

Galileo satellites on track for 2014


he Galileo satellite system is on track to provide improved satellite navigation services to people in 2014. Contracts totalling more than £200m have been signed for satellites and their launchers. Antonio Tajani, European commissioner, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, said the programme is on time and within budget. “This means that Europeans will be able to exploit the opportunities of enhanced satellite navigation provided by Galileo in 2014.” Galileo will underpin many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peacekeeping missions will all benefit from the free Galileo services.


© European Space Agency - P. Carril

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