The End User Device Strategy was also published at the end of October 2011. It aims to provide savings and increase the re-use and interoperability of PCs, laptops, thin clients and smartphones.

The strategy responds to the Government's goal for the public sector workforce to be able to work from any location on any suitable government or non-government end user device. It also seeks to address the issue that more than 600,000 end user devices are currently being employed across central government, with no common standards.

What is within scope?

The key objective is to introduce a minimum set of standards for end user devices. These will cover account service management and security requirements, and government departments will be provided with a timeline for implementing the new standards through existing or new contracts.

The following items are in scope for the End User Device Strategy:

  • Device hardware - PCs, laptops, tablets, thin client, smart phones and any other hardware that an end user can use to interact with their data and applications. Peripheral devices are not within scope, but the programme will consider their interfaces.
  • Operating systems - running either directly on the hardware or in a virtualised environment.
  • Application abstraction/isolation - applications are abstracted from the operating system and isolated from other applications where appropriate. This ensures that changes made by one application do not impact on others, allowing applications to be upgraded independently.
  • Interfaces - the interfaces to ICT and service management infrastructure.
  • Device management - software updates, asset management and application delivery.
  • Standards - standards for each layer and between layers.

At this stage, the strategy applies to central government, executive agencies and arms length bodies only. However, the document makes it clear that the concepts should be appropriate for the wider public sector.

There are four key principles underlying the strategy:

  • The introduction of pan-government standards for devices.
  • The separation of layers of the device infrastructure.
  • Exploitation of new device technology for business benefit.
  • The management of refresh cycles to best meet business needs.

To achieve these, a pan-government set of 'families of work styles', will be identified based on similar usage of devices. For example, the strategy notes that work undertaken by a VAT inspector and a probation officer is very different, but that they each 'belong' to the same family in terms of usage of devices. Common standards will then be introduced for each family of work styles.

Proposed timetable?

The delivery programme is set to run until the end of 2012, and the SIP sets out a milestone for full implementation of the End User Device Strategy to begin in January 2013.

Interestingly, the strategy makes it clear that departments do not need to wait for the end dates of existing contracts before adopting the End User Device Strategy. Where appropriate, the Government will engage with suppliers to renegotiate contracts, and according to the timetable a coordinated desktop/devices benchmarking exercise will be undertaken for contracts with three years or more to run.

Benefits will be measured via a benchmarking exercise based on the device cost per Full Time Equivalent (FTE).