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27 January 2012 | Angeline Albert
MPs have criticised the UK government for
ignoring requests for an external investigation into claims of collusion by
large IT suppliers.
In a report published yesterday
by the Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), a cross-party
group of MPs concluded the government has failed to investigate allegations
that “large systems integrators operate in the manner of a cartel”.
The Committee highlighted allegations of
anti-competitive and collusive behaviour by some large suppliers and has
renewed its call for Whitehall to establish an independent investigation to
determine whether there is truth in the cartel claims.
The review is a follow up to the report
published in July, which described the
government’s approach to IT purchasing as “woefully inadequate” and a “recipe
It also highlighted the government's over-reliance on an oligopoly of large
suppliers and a failure to carry out intelligent IT procurement.
The MPs also described the government’s IT
buying strategy as “still lacking in its commitment to independent benchmarking
of contracts with transparent data” and that it remained unclear how it would
address Whitehall’s buying skills gap.
Bernard Jenkin MP, chair of the committee
said: “This can only be achieved by bringing in IT executives and buyers from
large and small companies, who understand what they are buying and the
innovations on offer. This expertise cannot be contracted out.”
The Committee said a lack of accurate
information about its IT made it impossible to identify potential overcharging
which led to the waste of
"obscene” amounts of public money. MPs added the government must
build in-house contracting capacity and that without independent, external
advice to identify price comparisons, the anticipated cost reductions would not
The Cabinet Office
- the department leading the government’s IT strategy - was described as not a
large IT user, which has historically struggled to drive change within other
departments and with deeply embedded relationships with large suppliers.
Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister,
said in a statement: “We set out some ambitious objectives in our ICT strategy
and since then we have been going from strength to strength. The action we are
taking will reduce waste, and avoid the costly project failures of the past. We
will consider the report’s recommendations before setting out our response in