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Gordon Brown declares another new era in gov IT

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The government plans further back office integration and a national introduction of the Tell Us Once service as part of its streamlining programme.

The moves are among the main features of Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government, a strategy document published by the Cabinet Office on 6 December 2009.

Launched by the prime minister in a speech to the Institute for Government, it places a heavy emphasis on the importance of digital technology and finding new efficiencies. The plan is aimed at obtaining £3bn of efficiency savings identified since the budget in April, in addition to the £35bn a year promised for 2011 and £9bn earmarked before the budget.

Among its key recommendations are improved back office and procurement processes. The Cabinet Office is publishing data on every department's back office performance with a new set of comparators, and says it will look to expand the most successful shared service centres.

The paper says the Tell Us Once programme will be implemented nationally for notification of births and deaths in 2010. The aim is to reduce the number of agencies people have to contact in the case of a birth from two to one, and in the case of a death from seven to one.

This will followed by a series of local pilots for change of address in 2011, which if successful will be extended to the whole country.

Among the other actions outlined in the document are to:

- save over £600m by encouraging people to use online channels rather than face-to-face ones;

- spend £30m over three years to to get a further one million people online, and increase the number of services available through the internet, including some benefits claims;

- open up public sector information for wider re-use;

- merge or abolish arm's length bodies, integrate back office functions and sell off government assets;

- reduce spend on consultancy by 50 per cent and marketing and communications by 25 per cent;

- use more comparative data to improve standards, and publish public services performance data online by 2011. This will begin in 2010 with more detailed data on crime patterns, costs hospital procedures and parts of the national pupil database in 2010;

- review anti-fraud work across government to ensure that data analysis techniques become embedded in standard processes.

The prime minister said: "Government must change for the new era – and change for good. This is the starting point for this plan.

"Today, people don't want a government that tells them what to do, but nor do they want one that leaves them isolated. They recognise that when government has too much power they are rendered powerless, but that when government has too little power they are left helpless.

"Having demonstrated the value of government action, our task now is to develop government to work in partnership with individuals and communities to deliver the services people want in the way they want them and to preserve them in the face of all the challenges this new era presents."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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