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Cabinet Office to engage with ‘new generation’ of IT suppliers

CTO Liam Maxwell will attend events around the country

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The government has begun a tour of the UK, where it will be hosting a number of events to engage with a ‘new generation’ of IT suppliers that will help the Cabinet Office deliver on its ambitions of transforming public services for the digital era.

Chief technology officer, Liam Maxwell, and crown representative for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Stephen Allott, will be hosting events in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and London.

The Cabinet Office has said that government departments are looking to work with ‘more innovative and efficient IT suppliers’ to help deliver savings of £1.2 billion by 2015 by digitising public services and transactions, a plan that was set out in the government’s Digital Services Strategy.

This is the latest in a string of announcements that are aimed at breaking down the government’s traditional approach of handing out expensive IT contracts to a handful of suppliers that reap the rewards for years, but often fail to deliver innovative services that save the taxpayer’s cash.

The government once again attempting to deliver on its repeated promise of handing more work to SMEs – something that it has continuously struggled to do in the past – and these events are going to be aimed at striking relationships with smaller, agile, more innovative suppliers.

Similar initiatives to reform IT in the public sector include the G-Cloud frameworks, implementing open standards, the launch of the single government domain, GOV.UK, and renegotiating contracts with suppliers based on a new assumption that the government is acting as a single buyer.

“The way that government does business is changing. The days of waste and inefficiency, when public sector IT was dominated by overlong, restrictive contracts with a supplier oligopoly, are on the way out,” said minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

“We are making it easier for companies of all sizes to win government business. We want to see agile, innovative suppliers working with government on shorter, bespoke contracts to create the digital systems that support 21st century public services.”

He added, “There are software and services companies out there that fit the new agile model for public sector IT but have never done business with us or could do more. The roadshow that starts in Birmingham today is designed to tell these innovative suppliers about the opportunities that are opening up, and explain how they can bid more effectively for them.”

A National Audit Office report that was released last week did find that between 2011 and 2012 the government spent an estimated £316 million less than it would have done had these reforms not been put in place. However, it also highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed, including frustration from suppliers and the fact that the future for SMEs remains ‘uncertain’.

The roadshow events are organised in association with the British Chambers of Commerce.


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