Public sector bodies spend around £16 billion on Information Communication Technology (ICT) per annum. The Government want to cut this figure by £3.2 billion. In Government ICT Strategy: Smarter, cheaper, greener they propose replacing the existing private ICT market with a new Government led internal market in ICT services.
The Government will purchase ICT licences. These will be held under Crown warranty in an arrangement ominously entitled The Government Cloud. All public sector bodies including local authorities will be able to purchase what they need from a shopping list of solutions held by Central Government. Local authorities will pay only for what they use. They will be able to adapt the software to meet their needs. All applications will be pre-checked to ensure they meet data security obligations.
The report is good at identifying the problems with existing ICT procurement. These are:
- There are multiple different interfaces in the public sector. 10,000 unique public sector ICT applications and applications contracts exist. Different parts of Government are needlessly purchasing similar software multiple times.
- The creation of multiple bespoke solutions with different and often incompatible software has reduced the ability of public sector bodies to communicate with each other (interoperability).
- The purchase of commercial off the shelf IT applications ties public sector purchasers into long term service contracts. This limits their ability to seek better terms or different providers. It also prevents
them from reusing software or adapting it without permission.
- Public sector officials do not have a good record at procuring IT. Communication Information Technology (CIT) services contracts take between 57 and 77 weeks to procure on average (P44). They are characterised by cost overruns and late delivery.
- Public Services often don’t have sufficient in house ICT expertise. This means they rely on expensive consultants and contractors. The Government wants to reduce this by fifty per cent by 2020 by developing Government ICT staff capacity (P15).