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Treasury minister Yvette Cooper yesterday announced a plan to look for wide-ranging cost cuts in government budgets.

Martin Read, the government's Chief Information Officer, will look for savings in back office and IT spending. Other strands include collaborative procurement, asset management, sales and property.

Read, ex-CEO of Logica, said the government should look to the private sector for lessons in cutting costs by between 10 and 50 per cent.

Back office functions will be scrutinised, including finance, human resources, administration, legal services, travel services and marketing and communications. It will also look at other corporate services within other agencies like the NHS and local government.

The programme will also look at standardising and simplifying common IT processes, such as finance, in order to reduce costs.

It will attempt to improve the success rate of big government IT projects by better defining projects, running them more efficiently and improving skills of the senior staff in charge. Procurement costs will also be improved. Additionally, the government will extend the use of benchmarking and best-practice standards.

The proposals will be delivered in time for the 2009 Budget. The programme will build on claimed savings of £30bn made by the Comprehensive Savings Review. Yvette Cooper's statement is here. ®

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