Govt depts don’t use enough video conferencing

Lib dems call for increased use of video conferencing to save public funds.

Government departments should use video conferencing rather than book expensive domestic flights, say the Liberal Democrats.

The party has attacked the government for the £21.8 million spent on domestic flights over the last year. Party Spokesman Simon Hughes told the BBC that government staff should use “videoconferencing more so they fly around the country less” and criticised the cost of such flights to both public funds and the environment. “Civil servants are spending staggering amounts of taxpayer’s cash flying around the UK” said Hughes. “The Civil Service Code needs to change so that environmental factors are considered when bookings are made.”

The Lib Dems say that more than 210,000 flights were taken by government staff in 2008-09. Their figures are based on answers to parliamentary questions – and suggest that officials at the department for Work and Pensions alone took 25,860 flights, costing £2.97m to the public.
The Ministry of Defence spent the most out of all departments, with nearly £16m on 175,000 domestic flights over the last year. An MoD spokesperson said that it was seeking to to cut costs through telephone and video conferencing but that “all trips were absolutely necessary.”

Even the Department for Energy and Climate Change came under fire from the Lib Dems, taking more than 1,000 domestic flights. A spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph that they had to “balance the use of teleconferences and lowest carbon travel methods with the occasional business need to be somewhere quickly.”

Our own experience bears this out as government departments hardly figure in our customer base at all. Let’s hope that who ever wins the election encourages more use of video conferencing over all.