The Channel

UK gov should move into PC reseller biz, says report

Flogging old kit could bring in £70m per year

The government could become one of the UK’s biggest resellers of used IT kit if recommendations in a National Audit Office report are taken to their logical conclusion.

The spending watchdog paints a worrying picture of the public sector’s current approach to disposing of old kit. It found a lack of awareness of environmental disposal legislation amongst public bodies and “a lack of oversight of their disposal agent’s practices.”

More worryingly, but not perhaps surprisingly, there was awareness of the legislation covering data protection and security, but little actually being done to ensure disposal firms are wiping hard disks, for example.

Given this fuzzy attitude to disposals, it’s not surprising that the NAO reckons there is great scope for not just making public sector IT disposal more efficient, but to actually make it pay as as well.

The NAO says public bodies could make around £70m year from the resale of their old PCs and other kit, if they get their act together. On the face of it, this might worry dealers contemplating a flood of ex .gov kit hitting the market. Crucially, though, the NAO reckons that to achieve this turnover, gov bodies should replace kit on a three year cycle, rather than the five year cycle common in the public sector.

While this shorter refresh cycle would push up procurement costs, the NAO reckons that, in addition to the £70m from resale, giving civil servants more up to date kit would mean cost savings of as much as 40 per cent, due to reduced maintenance, better staff efficiency, and other benefits.

Any savings are bound to appeal to Whitehall bean counters contemplating the massive sums the government spends on IT. The NAO says public sector ICT procurement is set to increase from £2.7bn in 2005-2006, to £4.1bn by 2010-2011.

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