Government IT suppliers to face increased scrutiny

14 November 2005
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14 November 2005 | Anusha Bradley

Technology suppliers will face "more scrutiny and intervention" under a government strategy to transform public sector IT projects.

The seven-year plan, Transformational Government - Enabled by Technology, which was launched by the Cabinet Office this month, outlines ways to increase efficiency savings by merging central and local government back office functions and aggregating supplier contracts.

In response to questions about how it will work, John Hutton, who launched the plan as cabinet office minister prior to his promotion to work and pensions secretary, said: "A lot of people will be sniffy about this strategy but, as President Eisenhower said, 'With a campaign, it's a good idea to have a plan.' And I've got a plan."

He said government departments are to provide operational details of the strategy by March. While individual departments will be accountable for the success of the scheme, the Chief Information Officer Council (CIOC) will set the overall supplier relationship management (SRM) policy.

Ian Watmore, the government's chief information officer, said the Office of Government Commerce will advise the CIOC on SRM best practice and added that suppliers will be subject to performance-related contracts. He said the new model would give suppliers a "wider view" of the public sector market so they can "gear up their capabilities".

He said shared services across the public sector could save 20 per cent, or £1.3 billion, of its annual IT spend and will result in fewer but larger contracts.

Jim Murphy, cabinet minister for e-government, said past failures had been caused by projects that were "too ambitious". He said the government was now more willing to pull the plug on projects even after money had been invested.

In response to the strategy, high-tech industry trade group Intellect has created the Public Sector Council to improve relationships between suppliers and the government.

John Higgins, director general for Intellect, said: "If the IT strategy is to deliver on its objectives then it is vital its implementation is conducted in partnership with industry and that industry's views are heard.

"We believe the council will create a seamless communication process between industry and government and that long-term, positive change can be achieved."

Transformational Government - Enabled by Technology

SMnov2005

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