No more ''chaotic, bureaucratic, inconsistent government''

2 December 2010

2 December 2010 | Rebecca Ellinor

Big business can expect “a new working partnership” with the UK government, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told its largest suppliers this week.

CEOs and senior representatives from BT, Capgemini, IBM, Siemens IS and Capita were among the 31 supplier companies who attended a summit in London yesterday.

There, Maude told them: “I want today to mark the beginning of a new approach to supplier relations in government. I know in the past you may have perceived government as chaotic, bureaucratic and inconsistent. You will have had to deal with contracts where the specification changed 10 times before you were through… and experienced procurements that seemed to go on forever, cost millions of pounds and took countless hours of your employees’ time and energy. I promise you here today that we will do things differently.”

But Maude said in return he would expect some things of those suppliers, and warned government would “no longer offer the easy margins of the past”. 

In particular, he said the market would be opened up to smaller suppliers and mutuals, and the government expects big business to “partner with them as equals, not as sub-ordinates”.

“The days of the mega IT contracts are over,” he said. “We will need you to rethink the way you approach projects, making them smaller, off the shelf and open-source where possible. We will expect you to be transparent in all your dealings with us and for the terms of the contracts we sign with you to go up online.”

At the summit, Maude addressed them on three specific issues:

  • Identifying what aspects of the procurement process should be targeted to make the purchase of services quicker, cheaper and better
  • Identifying what central government needs to do to ensure it is an effective ‘single customer’ for services
  • Discussing how suppliers can be involved in supporting government initiatives in respect of SMEs and mutuals/joint ventures.

The summit built on contract renegotiations which started earlier in the year with the 19 largest suppliers, followed by the government’s wider supplier base, and is expected to deliver £800 million in savings in this financial year.

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