Prime Minster Gordon Brown has reiterated the government’s determination to slash back office costs through the development of shared service centres with commercial organisations.
“The government is committed to achieving £4 billion of savings from back office functions by 2012-13. To drive this ambitious programme forward, we intend to establish a number of business service companies that will handle the routine back office functions of Whitehall departments,” said Brown.
The economy drive “must go further than the delivery of public services - for the coming second digital revolution also offers the opportunity to radically refashion government and Whitehall departments,” Brown said in his speech on Digital Britain.
Brown highlighted a shared services centre in the Department for Work and Pensions, which already supports 140,000 staff in three departments and said four other government departments would be added next year.
However, the government and its outsourcer HP are currently embroiled in a bitter dispute over jobs security and pay at the DWP, with staff voting last week for a second round of strikes.
The government plans to transform the DWP shared services operation into a “public business service company” that will use “modern digital platforms wherever possible, and aim to be leaders in green technology and working practices”.
He suggested that these organisations could “in time draw in private capital, giving rise to the possibility of substantial capital receipts”.
Brown did not only speak about back office modernisation. He promised a new interface with citizens.
“Our goal is to replace the first generation of e-government with a much more interactive second generation form of digital engagement which we are calling Mygov.”
This will transform the way services are delivered and be the vehicle through which citizens control the services that are important to them, the prime minister said.
“Online, Mygov will give people a simple “dashboard” to manage their pensions, tax credits or child benefits; pay their council tax; fix their doctors or hospital appointment and control their own treatment; apply for the schools of their choice and communicate with their children’s teachers; or get a new passport or driving licence - all available when and where they need it.”
The restructuring of government using modern IT will means “we become the most efficient, open and responsive government in the world,” the prime minister suggested.