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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 …