The Conservative Technology Manifesto, published on 11 March, made a big play of how the Tories would introduce a ‘level playing field’ into public sector IT procurement and stop smaller IT companies being locked out of government IT contracts. How many of its laudable plans will become reality?
The manifesto discussed proposals for introducing greater openness into the procurement process, including clamping down on large all-encompassing contracts. There was talk of pushing for greater use of open standards in public sector IT – so big technology projects can be broken down and shared among smaller IT providers.
But there’s no surprise that the incumbent big IT suppliers have been busy trying to persuade the new government to preserve the status quo.
I noticed in some quotes at the bottom of this article in Computing that Fujitsu , one of the biggest IT suppliers to government, had begun ‘advising’ the [then] shadow cabinet even before the election. Fujitsu suggests that the plan to divide IT contracts into smaller and shorter chunks has already been dropped – because the IT giant helped the Tories realise that Govt would have to act as systems integrator to each of these smaller projects.
I’m sure there is some merit in Fujitsu’s advice on this last point. But it does make me wonder if the incumbent IT suppliers wield so much power that bringing in true openness into government IT procurement will be too big an ‘ask’.