Apple, Sony and HTC smartphones have been offered to over 2,000 civil servants as part of the government's technology overhaul of its departments, V3 has learned.
A government spokesman told V3 that staff in the Cabinet Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Crown Commercial Service were the first to be offered the choice between Apple and Android smartphones.
The spokesman said that the initiative was trialled in August with around 250 civil servants taking part. A positive reception meant that the rollout expanded across the Cabinet Office and the other two departments.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude officially revealed the technology transformation programme during the Sprint 15 event on Tuesday.
He said that the move will offer major savings against the government's long-term contract with Fujitsu, which expired on 31 January 2015.
"We have installed secure Wi-Fi and allowed users to choose their own devices and collaborate on documents," he said.
"We're expecting this to deliver a minimum of 40 percent cost savings on IT across government."
Maude was also given the choice of smartphones and opted for the iPhone 5S. "I now have a shiny new iPhone rather than the BlackBerry that I couldn't even bear to look at," he said.
The initiative also gained favour with civil servants. One was quoted as saying: "This is the first time I've felt valued as a civil servant. For once they haven‘t just given us crap, they've given us something good."
The spokesman said that the hardware side of the government technology transformation programme has been competed in the Cabinet Office and is continuing to be rolled out in the two other departments.
He declined to comment on which departments would be next in line for the initiative.
Another part of the transformation programme includes giving civil servants the choice between Apple, Lenovo or Dell laptops.
Maude also touted the Cabinet Office's use of government-accredited Google Apps as a means to make it easier for civil servants to work in a more collaborative way.
The spokesman said that this approach allows civil servants to embrace the technology trend of mobility and home working, and cut costs on software.
He noted that security concerns over the use of web-based apps in government were addressed in a comprehensive security assessment.
The assessment concluded that the security provided by Google Apps for Business meets the requirements of the official classification, making the apps suitable for government use.
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