Digitising Whitehall could save taxpayers up to £24bn a year

CIVIL servants should eliminate the use of paper when interacting with the public and model their working practices on internet start-ups, according to a report released today.

Influential think tank Policy Exchange says the existing Whitehall model is failing to take advantage of technological change. It believes that if the state can match the productivity growth of comparable parts of the private sector then it could save a whopping £24bn a year.

“By 2020 government must move from digital-by-default to digital, full stop,” the report’s authors say.

They also call on the government to accept electronic proof of identity: “If you choose to complete a passport application form online, when you press submit in your web browser, HM Passport Office will print the form out and post it to you to sign and send back.”

Other recommendations include introducing fixed term appointments for top civil servants to ensure staff are up to speed with the latest technology, encourage staff to build relationships with tech start-ups and open up government procurement.