Ict

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 12th May 2014.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office

(1) how much was spent on providing (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers, (c) senior civil servants and (d) all other officials in his Department with (i) iPhones and (ii) iPads in (A) 2012-13 and (B) 2013-14;

(2) what assessment his Department has made of (a) digital and (b) Agile skill in (i) his Department and (ii) other Government Departments; and if he will make it his policy to report on digital skills in departmental reporting plans;

(3) how much was spent maintaining his Department's official website in (a) 2012-13 and (b) 2013-14;

(4) how much has been spent on the Digital Services Framework in each month to date; and what proportion of such spending was with small and medium-sized enterprises;

(5) how many Agile coach positions there are in his Department; and how many such posts are filled by (a) permanent and (b) contract staff.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

At the time of the last general election this country was spending more than almost any other country in the developed world on ICT but the quality of the services and technology offered to civil servants and to the public was hardly impressive. Departments were—and in many cases are—burdened with legacy IT equipment which is not appropriate for a modern workplace. In addition there was a long-standing shortage of digital skills.

After the general election, the Cabinet Office launched the new Government Digital Service to support Departments in digitising public services and to redesign our online offering to the public.

Prior to August 2010, £27,000 was spent on hosting the Cabinet Office site (as well as other agency sites). In August of that year, we switched to using cloud-based services. For 2012-13, £2,623 was spent maintaining the Cabinet Office website. In February 2013 Cabinet Office joined gov.uk. The creation of gov.uk saved £42 million in 2012-13 and £50 million estimated savings for 2013-14 for gov.uk from closing down Directgov and BusinessLink.

The Capabilities Plan, which is refreshed annually, reports on digital skills across the civil service. The Cabinet Office publishes Quarterly Progress Reports against the Government Digital Strategy which covers digital capability, as does the Government Digital Strategy 2013 Annual Report. All of these are readily available online.

Prior to 2010 agile methods were not required. The Government Digital by Default Service Standard requires new or redesigned digital services to be developed using agile methods. Compliance is ensured through cross-Government IT spending controls. Prior to the last general election there was no cross-Government IT spending controls. These helped saved £500 million for taxpayers in 2012-13 alone, contributing to an unprecedented £10 billion of efficiency savings in that year. All of this could have been initiated prior to 2010. There are currently five agile coach positions in Cabinet Office.

Prior to the last general election there was no central monitoring of spend with SMEs. Various bureaucratic procurement practices militated against SMEs and resulted in a playing field which was biased against SMEs. The Digital Services framework went live in November 2013. 83% of the suppliers are SMEs. Of the nine competitions so far awarded five have gone to SMEs—this is 30% by value.

Under an IT contract signed in 2009, Cabinet Office staff IT costs around £7,000 per user per annum. We want staff to have IT equipment which actually suits their needs to allow everyone to work effectively and drive up productivity. As part of that we will consider giving staff equipment including tablets and mobile devices when there is an appropriate business need. For further details I refer the hon. Member to HC Deb, 7 March 2013, c1140W.

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