12 March 2010 | Carly Chynoweth
The UK Conservative party has promised to “fix government IT procurement” if it comes to power this year.
The Tories will bring in new processes, introducing open standards across government IT systems and make it easier for small suppliers to bid on contracts.
“The Labour government has spent more per capita than any other government in Europe on IT, but too much money has been wasted on failed projects,” said the party’s technology manifesto, published yesterday.
The Conservatives would open up government IT procurement to SMEs by publishing all tenders worth £10,000 or more on the supply2.gov.uk website.
IT design and procurement processes would be reformed so departments would have to explore buying existing technology before commissioning bespoke products or services. There would also be a presumption that government IT contracts should not be worth more than £100 million.
The manifesto said that bringing in open standards across government IT systems would create a level playing field for open-source IT – such as web browser Firefox - and allow big contracts to be broken into smaller components.
“We will also create a small IT development team in government that can develop low-cost IT applications in-house and advise on the procurement of large projects,” it added.
The Labour party announced plans to save £3.2 billion a year by 2014 through a new government ICT strategy in January. Improvements already under way include more collaboration on IT purchasing and closer working with vendors.