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MPs claim IT supply savings

Whitehall saves taxpayer cash

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Whitehall has acted on the recommendations of a parliamentary committee by improving services and value for money, according to its chair.

Edward Leigh, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the government's response to recommendations in the committee's 16 most recent reports has resulted in action by Whitehall departments and savings for the taxpayer.

"HM Revenue and Customs is acting to cut the running costs of its IT systems and is dealing more rigorously with its IT suppliers," Leigh said.

"The Office of Government Commerce has signalled its intention to get better value from the vast sums the government spends on external advisers, and primary care trusts are using electronic rostering to improve the management information they need to employ temporary nursing staff cost-effectively."

Leigh said he was particularly pleased to see that hundreds of thousands of children will benefit from improved methods by the Child Support Agency to calculate and collect maintenance payments.

The committee's last report on the agency concluded that it had been "one of the greatest public administration disasters of recent times".

IT problems at the agency had resulted in a backlog of 239,000 cases, with an additional 36,000 new cases stuck in the system.

According to Leigh, the CSA is now taking steps to improve its methods for calculating and collecting maintenance payments. The number of cases in receipt of maintenance is reported to have increased from 385,000 in March 2005 to 486,000 cases by June 2007, benefiting about 660,000 children.

The committee has prompted HM Revenue and Customs to reduce IT running costs and to set more rigorous targets for the delivery of IT projects by its suppliers. The department is also tackling VAT Missing Trader Fraud by improving the way it exchanges information with other EU member states.

The Office of Government Commerce has launched a programme to improve the value for money from on external consultants, said Leigh. It is also working with the Cabinet Office's Transformational Government Team to exercise tougher scrutiny and oversight over all high risk and mission critical IT enabled programmes and projects.

The government's central procurement arm, OGCbuying.solutions, has now been set a tougher target to save £1bn a year by 2010-11, compared with £500m in 2006-07.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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