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U.K. parliament remains in prehistoric tech age

Posting in Government

A U.K. senior government official has said that civil servants waste three days a year simply starting up their ageing computers.

The government's incoming COO Stephen Kelly has warned that the U.K. government is stuck in prehistoric times when it comes to technology, and "old world" standards are resulting in a waste of time and money for Whitehall.

London's Evening Standard reports that Kelly believes a plan to drag Whitehall into the 21st century is "in the foothills," and although budgetary cuts have been made, perhaps they are taking place in the wrong areas.

"I came into the office and I pressed my PC and it took me seven minutes to boot up," Kelly commented.

"That's government in the old world, that's three days of the year I waste of my time booting up. I think the average cost of a desktop a year is about £6,000. You could go and buy 10 iPads a year. We haven't had the confidence to say, 'That's not good enough.' We are paying top dollar, with the best credit in the U.K. by far, and we should be getting the best service."

Many contractors seem to be taking the government for a ride -- and nothing is being done about it. Officials pay £57 for a simple PC power cable, whereas the same make can be bought on Amazon for £20 and wholesale for £8.

This sprung to mind a conversation I had with a government official last year. The official said that legacy contract firms were often paid up to £15,000 to make minor text changes to local council websites; something which would take mere minutes to complete.

If the U.K. government believes wasting taxpayer money in such a way is an acceptable practice, why are they they so reluctant to fork out for modern PCs or perhaps a few tablets?

This post originally appeared on ZDNet.

— By on June 4, 2013, 9:26 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure