01 June 2000 | David Arminas
Government IT buying will undergo a major revamp, with some procedures made mandatory and the Office of Government Commerce playing a more central role, according to a recent Cabinet Office report.
Successful IT - Modernising Government in Action is the first government document to spell out a more active role for the OGC, which began operating in April to boost purchasing efficiencies across all departments.
The report recommended the OGC:
* reviews IT advisory body the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency's future, status and relationship with the OGC and considers how to make best use of available information on the IT market;
* audits existing IT procurement policies and guidance to create an unambiguous procedure that "makes it clear which elements are mandatory";
* continues to gather, by December, information about the top 10 companies that supply IT to the government, focusing on their range of services and performance.
The report also stated that there is "broad agreement" that the OGC should examine the major suppliers that are not active in the government IT marketplace.
A previous lack of this sort of investigation had "generated an over-reliance on existing suppliers", it said.
In the future, added the report, the government will aim for a more gradual introduction of new IT systems. Installing them in one go recently led to embarrassments, such as the Passport Agency's computer failure last summer, which resulted in lengthy waits by members of the public for new passports.