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The statistics agency will be the first organisation to sign up for shared services under a Cabinet Office agreement with Fujitsu.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced that it is preparing to sign an IT framework agreement with Fujitsu Services.

"We are going ahead with the shared services scheme called Flex, a core government scheme led by the Cabinet Office, who will be arranging a contract with the company," a spokesperson for the ONS told GC News.

Public Sector Flex, as the framework is branded, is a seven year agreement under which public organisations can procure IT services. It was agreed by the Cabinet Office and Fujitsu in June and could have a total final value of £61m.

The ONS and other organisations that sign up to Flex will get a core shared service, including data centre facilities, desktop hardware and software, thin client and laptop options, service desk support, network management, security and disaster recovery.

They can also buy applications support, hosting, telephony and security on a call-off basis. Business change services, such as IT strategy, testing and integration, applications development and printing services can be bought as additional services.

The Cabinet Office claims that green IT principles embedded in the contract will allow more flexible and home working, reducing travel and enabling more efficient use of office accommodation.

Users will be equipped with thin client devices, which consume a fraction of the energy used by a traditional PC. This factor alone is expected to reduce the Cabinet Office's carbon emissions by more than 300 tonnes each year.

"The deal will affect between 40 and 60 ONS staff, who will become Fujitsu employees, transferring under Tupe arrangements, with their terms and conditions of employment protected," said the ONS.

Earlier this week the PCS civil service union expressed concerns that the deal could pose a risk to data security, because the company, which is part of the Fujitsu multinational group, may risk the disclosure of private information as a result of the USA Patriot Act.

The Act compels companies with operations in America to provide personal data to the US government.

The ONS said: "The unions were able to represent their views to the management board yesterday and their views were taken into full consideration when evaluating the options.

"Our project team has been looking at this for 18 months and carefully evaluating the options. We believe this is the best option for the future and best value for money."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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