Computer Business Review

How the Cabinet Office wants to transform Government IT

by Joe Curtis| 04 August 2014

CYOD, collaboration tools and Wi-Fi for all: CTO Tom Read’s plan.

The Cabinet Office is set to overhaul IT for 3,100 workers as part of a 'technology transformation programme' that would replace a contract with Fujitsu.

The project, already underway, will update IT services for 2,500 Cabinet Office civil servants and 600 staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Cabinet Office CTO Tom Read wants to replace current IT systems with a Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) policy, and the department is also rolling out "fast, open" Wi-Fi in all its buildings.

The Fujitsu contract dates back to 2007 and expires in 2015, and Read plans to upgrade laptops, tablets and mobile phones after talking to civil servants who complained their PCs took 45 minutes to log-in, and who lack modern smartphones.

He said in a blog post: "We are now gearing up for go-live with our technology transformation programme.

"We have tested the solutions extensively with users and think they're going to love them. Less importantly, the new technology is substantially cheaper year on year than what is currently in place: things can be better and cheaper."

Under consideration are Asus laptops running Windows 8.1, MacBooks, iPads and Google Nexus tablets, according to a slideshow Read shared online.

The first 250 users are set to be using the new technology services by the end of August, and Read expects the rest to migrate "shortly after".

A Cabinet Office spokesman declined to say whether Microsoft Word would be considered alongside new collaboration tools, but the department is looking at Google Docs, Trello and Box's filesharing services.

Whitehall recently opted for Open Document Format (ODF) as its standard file format, which is more open than Redmond's touted Open XML, which the Government considered as harmful to vendor independence.

Contracts will conform to the Cabinet Office's latest procurement guidelines, which say that no deal can exceed £100m or two years in length.

The Whitehall department will also quit outsourcing IT support in favour of bringing it in-house.+

CBR understands the support function will be designed based on what users say they need, providing people with access to support in a variety of ways, so that they can pick what suits them best.

Read wrote that civil servants were crying out for more responsive IT support.

"Many miss the days when their support staff were familiar faces and also civil servants - people who genuinely care and want to fix things," he said.

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