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Lib Dem manifesto focuses on ‘better’ IT procurement

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The Liberal Democrats’ election manifesto published today (14 April) called for improved government IT procurement, including the use of cloud computing and open-source software.

The demands are similar to those of the Tories, who launched their manifesto yesterday. Labour launched its manifesto on Monday.

The Liberal Democrats plan to identify the cost savings that the government needs to make to reduce its debt by conducting a Comprehensive Spending Review from this summer. The party said that the review will focus particularly on savings that can be made across government, such as on IT provision, pay and public sector pensions.

"As part of the review, we will seek to identify additional savings which can be used to pay down the deficit further, including better government IT procurement, investigating the potential of different approaches, such as cloud computing and open-source software," Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats leader, wrote in the manifesto.

In its manifesto, the Liberal Democrats also said it would scrap "pointless" ID cards, another plan that the Tories have previously voiced, and biometric passports. The Liberal Democrats claims that this initiative would go towards funding 3,000 more police on the beat.

The party predicted that scrapping ID cards would save £50 million in 2010-11, increasing to £155 million savings by 2013-14. Furthermore, it said that scrapping biometric passports would lead to £220 million savings in 2010-11, rising to a maximum saving of £425 million in 2012-13.

Another scheme that the Liberal Democrats plan to scrap is the Intercept Modernisation Programme, which it said will save £200 million a year from next year. The government programme aims to intercept and store communications data in the UK, and according to media reports, will lead to the creation of a central database, similar to the American NSA Call Database.

Meanwhile, the party said it will support public investment in the rollout of superfast broadband. While it did not expand on this pledge, it said it would target first the areas that are least likely to be provided for by the market.

The Liberal Democrats also made references to "strengthening" the Data Protection Act and the Information Commissioner’s Office, though again, failing to explain how it would do so.

The Liberal Democrats manifesto did not mention the NHS IT programme, although the party said previously that centralised patient records needed to be scrapped..

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