Senior official slams 'pervasive' poor procurement in government IT

16 April 2012

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16 April 2012 | Naouel Zenaidi

A senior Cabinet Office official has fired a broadside at the lack of progress and poor procurement practice that is “pervasive” in government IT.

In a recent blog, Chris Chant, the G-Cloud programme director who will retire later this month, accused chief information officers (CIOs) across Whitehall of making insufficient progress in the way they procure IT. “We have done the unacceptable and thought we were doing a great job,” he wrote.

He cited single source contracts that led to poor value for money, a lack of innovation, a lack of capability both in-house and with suppliers, and the delivery of expensive inadequate and outdated solutions that hold back the internal customers that use them.

He admitted that he and fellow CIOs had failed to challenge a long-established tradition of bad practice.

But Chant wrote he believed greater transparency on IT government spend, the use of frameworks, SME involvement and the shift to a “digital by default” attitude will force CIOs to adopt a more innovative and customer-centric approach.

Chant, who spent 18 months working on G-Cloud and the precursor to the Government Digital Service, said he had seen some “real signs of change”.

“CIOs across government need to recognise what has changed and stop hiding behind the comfort blanket of what has always been done before,” he wrote, warning big suppliers they could “no longer rely on delivering poor service for big money and get away with it”. He also encouraged SMEs to seize the opportunity to bring “speed, flexibility and low prices” to the public sector.

The G-Cloud programme is a cross-government initiative that seeks to introduce IT cloud services into government departments, local authorities and the wider public sector.

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