Government pushes tech procurement savings

But users point out that shifting suppliers is often easier said than done

The government body responsible for helping the public sector spend money efficiently has urged IT managers to save money by changing mobile phone contracts and buying multifunction devices (MFDs) rather than separate peripherals.

Speaking at the GC2005expo conference in London, Hugh Barrett, chief executive of, urged attendees to scrutinise their existing business methods for potential savings.

"The Department of Work and Pensions recently conducted a review of its mobile phones and discovered it had 1,000 spare handsets — saving then £186,000," said Barrett, adding that the department also made big savings by replacing several mobile contracts that were costing more than necessary.

Barrett also encouraged listeners to look at multifunction devices, which combine the functionality of printers, fax machines and scanners.

MFDs have been available for more than ten years, but Barrett insisted that they had the potential for big savings — citing a northern police department that had made an 18 percent saving by moving to MFDs, largely through using less energy.

But one official from the prison service suggested that life at the coalface was more complicated than Barrett had made out.

"We are looking into issues such as networking and multifunction devices, but found that our existing deals with suppliers prohibited us from making savings," said the official, asking if Barrett's comments meant this problem would be resolved in future.

"No, this won't be easier following what I've said today," Barrett replied, adding that the best way to address such problems was to lobby people at the top. "They'll appreciate the benefit of making savings that benefit front-line services.