Parliamentary tech boss backs calls for gov't IT loans

MP Andrew Miller, leader of parliament's IT committee, has lent his support to a consortium calling for a £1bn fund to stimulate investment in green tech and shared services

The leader of parliament's IT committee has backed a consortium calling for a £1bn fund to stimulate investment in green tech and shared services.

MP Andrew Miller, chairman of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee (Pitcom), supported calls for the government to establish the fund, which would be used to loan money to central and local government organisations.

The loans would be used by public-sector bodies to invest in green technologies and would later be repaid using savings generated by the technology.

Common technology platforms to allow applications to be shared across departments, including virtual desktops, remote working technologies, server virtualisation, duplex printers and automated PC shutdown software, could all be purchased using the loans, according to the consortium and Miller.

The group, composed of IT manager association Socitm, environmental charity Global Action Plan and IT suppliers Logicalis and CA, called for the fund in its report A Shared Vision for Smarter Services, which was launched last week.

Pitcom's Miller said at the launch of the report that the fund could lead to substantial productivity gains.

"I see this as a more efficient way of working. If we do not implement the green IT agenda there are risks. The cost of every local authority is going up and up. The productivity gains that we can produce by improving sharing of services are massive," he said.

The report cites the example of one local government body already making savings through investment in green IT: the London Borough of Hillingdon, which reduced IT operating costs by investing in efficient IT.

Hillingdon invested in software to automatically shut down PCs, server virtualisation, replaced power hungry CRT monitors with TFT screens, bought duplex printers and introduced remote access software from Citrix and T-Mobile that allowed staff to work from home and edit records from their mobiles.

For a £70,000 investment in the tech, Hillingdon was able to cut £250,000 over three years from its operating costs.

The need to cut IT costs is already high on the government's agenda following the recent Operational Efficiency Programme report which heralded a drive for £7.2bn-per-year savings through greater use of shared services and outsourcing, and warnings from the Cabinet Office that government would need to cut £50bn per year from public spending by 2050.

The call for green IT loans comes one year after the Greening Government ICT report, which set Whitehall the target of making government computer systems wholly carbon neutral by 2020.

According to Trewin Restorick, chief executive of Global Action Plan, significant progress has yet to be made towards meeting the target.

"Basically there has not been sufficient traction because of the financial barriers," he said.

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