MoD spends £6 million on BlackBerrys

Details have been revealed of departmental government spend on mobile devices with costs in some spiralling into the millions.

Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, sent written questions to Whitehall demanding a breakdown of the amount of officials given mobile devices and the amount spent in total on handsets and “related data services”.

The highest costs landed with the Ministry of Defence, which provided comprehensive figures including more than just officials as requested, with the total for Ministers, civil servants and armed forces as part of the Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service hitting £6.6 million for an array of BlackBerrys and 3G data cards.

This included a total of 45,306 devices given to employees.

For officials, the Transport Department showed the largest usage – with 7,757 officials split across its seven executive agencies accounting for an impressive £1.5 million spent on devices.

It seems with a freeze on pay increases in the civil service the Transport Department has taken to handing out free mobile devices to all of its staff as a form of compensation.

Meanwhile 1,741 staff handed a mobile at the Department for Health drummed up costs of £738,301 “including contract and usage charges”.

Of this expenditure, Minister for Health Simon Burns recently highlighted a loss of equipment including the ubiquitous RIM BlackBerry and Lenovo laptops due to theft amounting to £13,166.

Other answers show that the Department for International Development handed 728 officials mobiles, with a total spend of £222,789, though Secretary of State Alan Duncan was unable to provide a full estimate of the overseas spending due to the cost of collating the data – which does not exaclty bode well.

The Department for Communities and Local Government also doled out 725 mobiles to its staff at a cost of £113,000, while the Northern Ireland Office spent £13,957 on mobiles and services to 52 staff, and the Scotland Office provided 27 members of staff with £12,757 worth of freebies.