OFT launches probe into public sector IT

4 July 2013

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4 July 2013 | Andrew Allen

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT)‎ has called for public sector IT buyers and suppliers to get in touch about their experiences to ensure there is adequate competition in the sector.

The authority said it is seeking information about:

       The structure of the sector, such as the number of suppliers and their market share.

       Whether barriers entry existed and made it difficult for smaller businesses to compete.

       Whether public sector users face high barriers to switching suppliers, such as costs of transfer or restrictive licence agreements.

       Whether some suppliers seek to limit the interoperability of systems.

       Whether the outsourcing of IT service provision results in a high level of dependence on suppliers' expertise.

There had been many reviews of the procurement of IT by the public sector but few had examined whether competition is inhibited on the supply side, the OFT added.

Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, said in a statement: “Given the vital role that this technology plays in the delivery of public services and the cost to the taxpayer, the OFT believes it is important to explore whether there are any restrictions on competition. We want to hear both from industry suppliers and public sector users about how competition in this market works, any problems that they have experienced, and how it could be made to work better.”

Commenting on the announcement, Pedro Paulo, CEO of Gatewit‎, said: “A strong degree of competition is necessary to ensure best value for departments and the taxpayer, and this means attracting bids from all sizes of businesses and not just the biggest providers. The government has to make the bidding process simpler and more accessible for smaller enterprises.”

More information on the study can be found here.

Anyone who wishes to contact the OFT can email ict.consultation@oft.gsi.gov.uk.

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