GDS claims £4bn in savings through better IT

Written by Rebecca Hill on 8 December 2016 in News
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The Government Digital Service has saved Whitehall almost £4bn through improved digital services since March 2012, but new figures show a slowdown in year-on-year savings.

As GDS hails savings success, Kevin Cunnington, leader of GDS, said that future priorities would include data and people - Photo credit: PA Images

GDS, which is celebrating its fifth birthday today, has aimed to cut IT costs across Whitehall by setting controls on how much departments can spend on IT services and projects. It has also ensured that departments are offering better value for money through its Technology Code of Practice and standards assessment processes.

The figures, released by the Cabinet Office on Thursday, indicate that the government saved £3.56bn as a result of digital and technology transformation in the three financial years up to March 2015.

On top of this, the Cabinet Office revealed that government saved £339m through assurance of IT and digital services in the 2015-16 financial year.

However, this is a fall of £52m compared with the previous financial year, when savings reached £391m. 


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In a statement, minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer, said: “The work GDS does is about making life easier for citizens and businesses through the ongoing transformation of public services.

“We want to save people time and effort - and save the taxpayer money. So it is great to see that GDS is celebrating turning five by once again illustrating how we are saving millions for the public purse while helping citizens and businesses access the vital public services they rely on.”

The Cabinet Office also released figures on GDS’s flagship project, the single government website GOV.UK, showing that since 2012 it has received more than 3 billion visits.

One million of these have been in the past 12 months – an average of 34 visits a second – and the site now has more than 40 million users, up from 14 million in November 2012.

Cunnington looks to data, people and Verify

Meanwhile, the leader of GDS, Kevin Cunnington, has blogged about his plans for the future of the service, noting that the team is hiring at a rate of 45 additional people a month.

“In start-up terms, that’s a major success. In terms of digital government, it is hugely important,” he wrote, adding that one of his priorities would be to transform the workforce across Whitehall through its new national digital academies and promoting equality and diversity in government digital, data and technology professions.

Among his other plans are to invest more in policy and engagement to help break down siloes across government services and “fix how data is stored and used in government” – including to publish a roadmap of open application programming interfaces.

The importance of data use by government was also picked out by commentators speaking to PublicTechnology about GDS’s priorities for the coming years.

Eddie Copeland, director of government innovation at innovation agency Nesta, said this would be “key to evidence-based policymaking, smarter coordination between departments and delivering genuinely better services for citizens”.

Cunnington also reiterated that GDS needs to focus on rolling its identity assurance scheme GOV.UK Verify out at scale, saying that they would continue to push to get as many people signed up as possible. 

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