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Cabinet Office chucks hefty rulebook at paper-chewing gov bods

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The Cabinet Office expects all government offices with new or redesigned online transactional services created after April to be compliant with its money-saving, IT-tightening digital service standards by April 2014, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said yesterday at a gathering of "digital warriors".

Outlining the Digital Services Strategy, which was released on Tuesday, the Cabinet Office said all other "major" government services (which process over 100,000 transactions a year) would have to be online and compliant with these standards three years after this.

"By 2018, we expect all government services handling over 100,000 transactions a year to be digital by default," the Cabinet Office clarified.

The minister spoke about the new cost-cutting satndards at Sprint13 conference yesterday, where he was joined by Martha Lane Fox to help whip up excitement among their fellow civil servants about government's digital dream.

Maude has said he expects savings of £1.2bn by 2015 for the UK taxpayer, when the government manages to fully transition its admin off paper and onto the internet. He is also hoping to reduce overall IT spend - currently, according to the Cabinet Office, the UK government has the highest IT spend per capita in the world.

Government COO Stephen Kelly said that just two years ago, the UK government was spending £6bn a year on IT, and was locked into monolithic, long-term legacy contracts, as reported by Charlotte Jee of Government Computing.

Cherry-picking the best examples of digital savings across government, the Sprint13 conference showcased instances where cash was saved by killing paper.

According to figures from GDS last week, booking a driving test costs the government £6.62 if done by post, £4.11 by telephone, but just £0.22 online. Companies House had seen digital efficiency savings too - the cost of processing each filing has gone down by 50 per cent, now that 98 percent of all companies choose to file their accounts online.

A Transactions Explorer tool released by GDS last week pulls together the admin costs of certain procedures - from sea burials to cattle movement tracking. The info available is patchy and several departments have refused to cough up the information but it is intended to provide a magnifying glass on admin costs in government, showing up inefficiencies and potential savings.

A secure identity register will be needed for people to access their accounts in a new digital government. The UK Civil Service declared that the partner framework and technical architecture was already in place this identity assurance register. Eight different suppliers are involved in providing identity services to government - including PayPal, announced last week. The other seven include the Post Office, Verizon and Experian. ®

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