THE UK GOVERNMENT could save £24bn a year by 2020 through better use of technology, such as making better use of public data and pushing for the adoption of electronic proof of identity.
That's according to think tank Policy Exchange, which launched its Technology Manifesto report compiled in association with EMC and Google at an event in London's Shoreditch on Wednesday.
Eddie Copeland, head of the technology unit at Policy Exchange said, "It is our strong belief that during the course of the next parliament, the role of technology could have many implications - some good, and some bad.
"We are urging politicians to put technology front and centre of their thinking for 2015, as there are too few policy makers who do so at present."
The report urges politicians to focus on better use of technology within both central and local governments in a bid to slash costs, with the think tank predicting that £24bn a year could be saved by the year 2020.
The report notes that the launch of Gov.uk, which replaced 300 individual departmental and agency websites, saved the government over £500m in 2013. However, it says that this is not enough, and that the savings should be in the billions, rather than millions.
Speaking at the Technology Manifesto's launch event, Nadhim Zahawi, member of the Number 10 Policy Board asked, "Why should technology be at the centre of the government?" And answered, "Because it needs to be reflecting the tech-savvy society it is representing.
"In 2015, those people who will be voting for the first time have only ever known a world where the internet has existed. For the incoming generation of public service consumers, if it's not online - it doesn't exist."
Policy Exchange offered the government some advice on how to do so, too. It recommends that by the end of 2015, the 150 highest-volume government transactions should be converted to the "digital by default" standard, and urges that the government make better use of public data, saying it should establish an information marketplace.
The report also calls for the government to set up an independent Committee of Ethics, should commit to the wholesale adoption of Government as a Platform (GAAP) and should encourage the broad adoption of electronic proof of identity.
It isn't just about saving money, as the report also calls on the government to build the world's most connected and digitally skilled society; to make Britain the most attractive place outside of Silicon Valley for technology entrepreneurs to start and grow a business; and to make government the smartest in the world.
Dr Julian Hyppert, MP member for Cambridge, said, "Across all of the parties, there are a handful of MPs who really get it, with the vast majority simply not getting technology. Try to make sure that the people who get it, whoever they are, get back into parliament, and we as a society will evolve."
According to MP Francis Maude, the government is already eyeing ways to slash costs, with potential plans in place to ditch Microsoft Windows in favour of open-source software. This is unlikely to happen any time soon however, with the UK government having recently handed over £5.5m for extended Windows XP support. µ
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