FCO to cut one-third from IT and telecoms spending

Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 4-year plan for ICT cash-slash

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) plans to cut its IT and telecommunications running costs by 30 per cent to 40 per cent – all the while reducing their environmental impact and providing "better services" to staff, according to a new strategy.

It is aiming to modernise the infrastructure, improve training and awareness of technology in day to day work, and rationalise the technology. The department will also aim to provide better support to other parts of government that use its IT platforms outside the UK.

The strategy summary says the FCO aims to provide ICT "which is easy to use, flexible, fast and reliable; which does all we and our Whitehall partners need at lower cost and with a smaller carbon footprint; and improves our knowledge management so we can access the information we want when we want it and use it better".

The department is in the process of moving overseas resources to areas such as Brazil, Turkey, India, China, Indonesia and other parts of Asia, all of which will require the support of ICT.

On environmental performance, the FCO is aiming to reduce the carbon emissions of its ICT by at least 25 per cent by 2015 compared with 2009-10, and to cut paper use by 10 per cent in the current financial year.

Chief information officer David Meyer said the department has already made significant improvements in its ICT but can go further. "Staff in UK and in more than 200 FCO offices around the world will be linked by better telephony, videoconferencing and secure computer systems than now," he said.

"But by making these services less complicated and more integrated they'll be cheaper; they'll reduce our carbon footprint significantly; and they'll be more accessible to staff with disabilities. What I'm seeking is for all our staff to be able to focus on the information, not the IT."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

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