Shared services gathers pace

Shared services gathers pace

First integrated systems go live at newly-created Whitehall department

Rollout of the first organisation-wide technology at the newly-created Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Dius) starts this week.

And the multimillion-pound, seven-year contract for the next phase of the infrastructure programme was signed on Monday.

Dius is using the Flex shared service contract brokered by the Cabinet Office with Fujitsu (Computing, 4 October), which offers a standard desktop infrastructure, with optional extras, that will cost less as more public sector organisations sign up.

Dius’ October contract was for the quick-fix integration work needed to provide common systems for the 1,000 staff transferred from its two predecessor departments – Trade and Industry, and Education and Skills.

“The first deal was to give us the glue to bring everyone together on a single email system, intranet, and staff directory,” said chief information officer Karen Delafield.

Under this week’s agreement, rollout of the full Flex platform will start next summer.

The core deal is only worth about £15m, but Dius’ Flex spend is likely to be much higher. Possibile extras include infrastructure options such as wireless access and real-time collaboration, and business applications such as human resources systems.
“Our task now is to decide how we take forward the full transformation, and what elements we want to add to reflect the innovative element of the department’s name,” said Delafield.

The framework structure was crucial to the new department’s two-stage approach.

“Without Flex we would have had to go through a European Journal procurement for the full functionality before we could start on our immediate needs,” said Delafield.

So far Dius and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) are the only two organisations to join the Cabinet Office on Flex. But another 2,000-strong agency is expected to sign up in the next month.

The Cabinet Office will be the first organisation to roll out the technology, from next spring.

“We will be proving the rollout process for reuse by Dius and the ONS,” said technical infrastructure director Peter Court.