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Council website usage on the up

A survey of local authority websites across the UK shows that for 2005, visits rose by 40 per cent compared with the same period the previous year. The survey is the third of its kind and shows that take-up is on an upward trend ahead of the national drive to boost greater awareness of government websites. Socitm Insight, the …
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Which? finds low awareness of DTV

New figures show significant numbers of the British public are unaware the switchover to digital TV will be taking place. A survey by consumer watchdog, Which?, said four in ten Britons do not know that the analogue signal will be switched off sometime between 2008 and 2012. Also, only seven per cent of respondents knew what …
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NHS modernisation: 'Too much, too fast'

The pace of modernisation is too fast, according to a new survey of NHS doctors. Figures released by BMA News, the membership newspaper of the British Medical Association shows that 85 per cent of doctors are "alarmed by the pace of reform in the NHS". In fact, nearly three-quarters of respondents believe that changes including …
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Bradford procurement slammed

Bradford Metropolitan District Council has been criticised for the way it mismanaged the procurement of a key Asset Management Project (AMP). Local authority watchdog the Audit Commission has published a damning report highlighting weaknesses in the way the authority sought to find a partner to manage its assets portfolio, a …
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You open? We're Certified!

An initiative to inform council IT buying decisions is launched today. The new scheme entitled Certified Open aims to assess the degree of "openness" of a suppliers' products, services and staff. Certified Open logo Certified Open will be launched with a kitemark that will make is easier for buyers to identify "open" companies …
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First Minister of blogging

David Miliband has prompted a heated debate by becoming the first government minister to launch his own blog. It is hosted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, where Miliband is Communities and Local Government Minister. Miliband says the aim of the blog is to "help bridge the gap – the growing and potentially dangerous …
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London boroughs not sold on small.biz

London boroughs must do more to boost the number of smaller businesses selling goods and services to local councils. The conclusion comes from a detailed review conducted by Harrow Council in conjunction with the London Centre of Excellence into local authority "selling to the council" web pages. The report finds that while …
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Government ID Card claims deflated

Biometric data employed for identification purposes could be misused and lead to "function creep", the European Data Protection Supervisor has warned. In a comment this week, the EDPS, who monitors the use of public data, said the ease with which biometric information, such as fingerprints, could be shared with other databases …
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LearnDirect 'could do better'

The company established by the government to deliver e-learning is making some progress, but is still failing to reach groups with the lowest skills levels, according to MPs. A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee found the Learndirect service, operated by Ufi, has in seven years provided courses to 1.7m people, two- …
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Yahoo! boosts Freedom of Information awareness

The UK's Cabinet Office is using paid-for search engine placements to promote public awareness of the Freedom of Information Act. Directgov, the government’s central internet portal, has been using Yahoo!’s Overture sponsored links service to direct web users to its FOIA page. The government has revealed that it pays 10p per …
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Improvements to council websites 'slowing'

Local authority internet services are showing signs of improvement, though the overall level of progress is slowing, a major survey reveals. The eighth annual Socitm Insight survey of local authority websites - Better Connected 2006 - also concluded that general improvements in the functionality of council websites is being …
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£179m council outsourcing costs disputed

A row has broken out over the cost of outsourcing council services from London to Scotland. The GMB union claims that it will cost Westminster residents an estimated £179m and 400 job losses if proposals made by the local authority's outsourcing partner Vertex to relocate some council functions to Scotland were allowed to go …
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Slow start for Choose and Book

Take-up of the NHS' Choose and Book system by GPs is off to an extremely slow start. A report by the membership magazine of the British Medical Association, BMA News says only 67,820 referrals have been made by GPs in England out of an estimated yearly total of 10 million. The figures are from data collected by the Department …
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DCA outlines local election pilots

The government has chosen 16 local authorities to experiment with new ways of voting in the forthcoming local elections. Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer this week announced a series of pilots as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to modernise the electoral system. Falconer said the emphasis of the pilots …
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Global 'blogathon' marks Safer Internet Day

The European Commission is putting the potential dangers of using the web under the spotlight by naming today "Safer Internet Day". Insafe, the EU's network for safer internet use, today launched a global "blogathon" to draw attention to the legal, ethical and safety issues associated with the internet. A wide range of …
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MPs hit out at Tax Credit Scheme

A new House of Commons Public Administration Committee report heaps further criticism on the much maligned Tax Credit Scheme. This report follows the one published by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in June last year, which was critical of the administrative practices, which "marred" an otherwise well- …
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Swindon goes large on outsourcing

Swindon Borough Council is planning to outsource its back office services in a deal that could be worth up £500m. The Wiltshire authority is inviting tenders for a contract of between 10 and 15 years, with a proposed option to extend for a further five to 10 years. The annual value of the tender is expected to be worth £20m a …
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Blair under fire on ID cards

Tony Blair’s plans for a national identity card scheme could end up as being a "monument to the failure of big government", David Cameron has warned. In PM's questions yesterday, the Tory leader attacked the proposed scheme as new research came to light suggesting it could cost more than £14bn to run. Cameron asked the Prime …
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Police to hold vehicle licence data for two years

Police are able to hold vehicle licence plate data for up to two years, the Government has confirmed. In response to a Parliamentary question last week, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said data collected through Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technologies could be retained for up to two years for "justified …
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Local Directgov goes live

Yesterday saw the official launch of the Local Directgov programme. Led by the London Borough of Brent and London Connects, and supported by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the new initiative will provide web surfers with links to local authority resources when searching for information through the main UK public …
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Cost and confidentiality concerns undermine NHS IT plan

Support is dwindling among medical practitioners for the multi-billion pound modernisation of the NHS’ IT systems, a major new study shows. A survey of doctors by research firm Medix between December and January 2006 found that only one per cent of respondents thought implementation of the NHS' National Programme for IT (NPfIT …
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Becta reviews UK schools for Microsoft 'lock-in'

The government agency leading implementation of the Department for Education and Skills' e-strategy has launched two reviews of schools' use of ICT. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) last week announced a value for money review of Microsoft's educational licensing programme, and a second …
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Public sector could save billions through shared services

The government could save up to £40bn over the next decade by sharing services across public sector human resources and finance functions, researchers claims. The BuyIT Best Practice Network, which has been working with the government on take-up of shared services, makes the estimate in a best practice guide published this week …
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UK government wastes billions, MPs warn

Efforts to improve efficiency and value for money across government are being undermined by poor project management and leadership skills, MPs have warned. A hard-hitting report by the cross-party House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week said government departments are wasting billions of pounds of public …
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SCC wins HMRC contract

The Pan-European technology integrator and service provider, SCC has been awarded a contract by HM Customs and Revenue (HMRC) it was announced today. The four-year contract potentially worth up to £560m will be used to support the central government department's eGovernment and efficiency targets. The contract will cover the …
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LSE clarifies ID Card cost claims

The London School of Economics (LSE) has issued a statement clarifying its position on its National ID card research. The announcement follows press reports that project costs could go as high as £40bn. The LSE says that its original estimate of a £19.2bn high watermark stands and no other figure should be attributed to them. …
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Home Office 'confident' of ID card costs

The Home Office has published an extract of the independent report which assessed the costing estimates of the National ID card scheme as "robust and appropriate." Charles Clarke used this report to underline the basis for the cost estimates of £30 for a stand alone ID card and £93 for a passport and ID card package that was …
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Info Commissioner criticises ID Cards Bill

The Information Commissioner believes the measures set out in the National Identify Cards Bill go "well beyond" the requirements to set up a secure, reliable and trustworthy ID card system. In a statement published on the organisation's website, to the Bill that was passed by Parliament on 18 October, Richard Thomas, the …
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ID card pricing announced

The cost of a new stand-alone ID card has been set at £30, it was revealed yesterday. The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke made the announcement in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Martin Salter MP. The stand-alone card will be valid for 10 years and the current estimated cost for a passport and ID card package is …
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Lie detector tests for UK benefits claimants

Benefit applicants will be subject to lie detector tests under new plans annouced by Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett to crack down on fraud. The announcement comes as an influential government report reveals that errors and fraud in the benefits system cost the taxpayers £3bn last year. The anti-fraud strategy, to …
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UK taxpayers lose billions to errors, fraud and crap IT

Large-scale errors and fraud in the benefits system cost the taxpayers an estimated £3bn in 2003-04, according to report from the Government's Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Problems highlighted included customer and official errors, a complex benefits system and an ill judged IT re-organisation. The recent move to form …
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Wales sold on online procurement

Millions could be saved by Welsh councils following a successful first eAuction pilot by two local authorities in the Principality. Swansea and Neath Port Talbot councils secured potential savings of £650,000 over five years, equivalent to nine per cent of expenditure for the supply of tinned and dried foods for a contract …
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Public sector IT pros have their say

Despite efforts to attract more IT professionals into government, industry is still widely seen a more attractive place to work than the UK public sector, according to the findings of new market research. While those in public IT are strong advocates for the benefits of working in the sector, the prospect of better pay would …
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Jobcentre Plus staff tell of IT system woes

Jobcentre Plus staff are put off from encouraging benefit claimants to use e-channels because of bad experiences with their own IT systems and contact centres, a government report reveals. Ongoing problems with contact centres and an "inadequate" Customer Management System have apparently led staff in local offices to "distrust …
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Treasury slashes local e-gov budget

Central funding for local eGovernment will be cut from £150m to just £7m as of next year, a senior official has disclosed. Julian Bowrey, divisional manager for local eGovernment at the Office of the deputy prime minister, signalled that while the e-service programme was now entering its "twilight", major developments are still …
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Market 'not ready' for UK.gov shared services push

Suppliers would be unable to cope if the UK public sector now made a wholesale move to shared services, says a key government figure. The public sector would disrupt the market by fully deploying shared services at this time, David Myers, director of the Whitehall team leading on shared services in government, warned on 20 …
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UK council pays £7.7m to escape outsourcing deal

Bedfordshire County Council has paid business service provider HBS £7.7m to terminate its £250m, 12-year outsourcing contract prematurely. Details of the settlement reached last month had been confidential, but were disclosed by the Council under the Freedom of Information Act. According to newly-released documents, the local …
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NHS staff oblivious to £6.2bn IT programme

Vast numbers of National Health Service front-line personnel are apparently oblivious to the £6.2bn national IT programme currently being rolled out, according to new research. A survey for NHS Connecting for Health found that nurses were least aware of the programme, with half knowing absolutely nothing about it, including …
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UK.gov backs SMEs for public sector contracts

The Government has given its strongest show of support yet towards helping smaller suppliers win more business in the public sector IT marketplace. Alun Michael, the small business minister, has "urged" councils to open their doors wider to small firms and take advantage of the expertise, innovation and value for money gains …
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Computer error destroyed 1m UK tax records

Almost a million taxpayer records were accidently deleted from Inland Revenue computer systems between 1997 and 2000 due to a software problem which went unnoticed for several years. The Department took three years to discover that software used to cleanse its database of old cases was also wiping live ones from its system. …
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EU commissioner outlines e-inclusion plans

The European Information Society Commissioner has outlined plans for three new major initiatives to accelerate a Europe-wide e-inclusion drive. Addressing the i2010 conference in London,Viviane Reding said the "flagship" projects would give "critical mass to our work in three and important and visible areas where ICT has a …
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Councils face huge workflow challenge

Only one in seven councils has so far fully implemented enterprise workflow within their eGovernment programmes, meaning that to a Whitehall target, most will have to rush through this crucial work at break-neck speed. Such is the outlook from new data compiled from the latest eGovernment progress reports supplied by councils …
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Massive IT overhaul in prospect for UK schools

Major changes planned to address fundamental problems Sweeping reforms are on the way to give schools a better deal on the £180m they spend each year on management information systems. Becta, the Government's lead agency for ICT in education, has called for a complete overhaul of MIS provision in schools amid serious concerns …
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Gov.UK preps ID card contracts

The Government has set out the massive IT and support infrastructure it intends to source for the planned national identity system. The Home Office's Identity Cards programme laid down its expected requirements in an information notice to potential suppliers on 11 August. Formal procurements are due to launch once the identity …
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ID cards: Home Office pursued over LSE rebuttal

Home Office attempts to quash academics' criticism of the planned national identity system appear to have backfired badly, prompting a fresh round of questions about the scheme's chances of success. The London School of Economics says the Department's recent rebuttal of their critique of the Government's identity cards scheme …
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Gov.UK plans cheap digital IDs for egovernment

The Government is planning to offer citizens low-cost digital certificates to give them more convenient and secure access to online government services. Under the plans, digital certificates allowing individuals to prove their identity online - which today cost around £25 - could be made available for as little as £5. The move …
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Open source makes school appointment

Becta, the Government's lead agency for ICT in education, is set to release a new report which will say that schools could save significant sums by switching to open source software, eGov monitor can report. The landmark report will show that OSS can be implemented successfully in schools and present documented examples of cost …
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Gov.uk backs open source drive

The Government has funded a ground-breaking new venture to accelerate the use of open source software (OSS) throughout local government. Known as the Open Source Academy, the project represents one of the most significant developments yet in moves to drive up OSS adoption in government. The Academy brings together a consortium …