Posts tagged "Guardian Government Computing"

Government Procurement Service signs suppliers for PCs and tablets deal

Lenovo and Viglen among companies on £4bn IT hardware framework

The Government Procurement Service (GPS) has awarded its long-awaited IT hardware and solutions framework, which has a predicted value of up to £4bn over a maximum of four years.

According to the Cabinet Office, the framework is intended to allow the public sector to get better value from its purchases of commoditised hardware, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, servers, printers and the most commonly used peripherals.

It said the framework has a “good mix” of suppliers, including original equipment manufacturers, SMEs and resellers.

The full list of companies is Academia; Akhter; Centerprise; Computacenter; Dell; Ergo; Fujitsu; HP; Insight Direct; Kelway; Lenovo; Misco; Softcat; Specialist Computer Centre; Stone; Viglen; and XMA.

Chris Pennell, principal analyst at market intelligence firm Kable, said: “This is good for Viglen and Lenovo, which tend to struggle against competition from big suppliers. But overall the supplier list is what would be expected.”

He added: “We’ll have to wait and see how successful the framework is”.

In an effort to reduce costs the framework will have standardised product specifications and use procurement techniques such as e-auctions.

The GPS intends to run further auctions on behalf of government purchasers with the goal of achieving greater savings against catalogue pricing.

David Shields, managing director of the GPS, said the framework is another step in the delivery of the government’s ICT strategy.

“We’re pleased to have worked closely with Pro5 in developing this framework to ensure the benefits of standardisation, aggregation and price transparency are shared across the whole of the UK public sector,” he said.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Posted by admin - June 30, 2012 at 09:22

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Going beyond the headline savings

Institute for Government ICT report says cost focus must not come at the expense of innovation or expenditure that releases savings. David Bicknell writes

Government ICT in the last week has been like waiting for a London bus, with three developments following soon after each other: an Institute for Government critique of the government’s ICT strategy; an announcement of £70m of savings clawed back from Microsoft and SAP; and ahead of a meeting with 20 key suppliers, a reiteration that cross-Whitehall spending controls will be a permanent way of life.

The Institute for Government (IfG) report, ‘System upgrade? the first year of the government’s ICT Strategy’, set out to assess how effectively the strategy is being implemented, to identify ways to accelerate the implementation of the strategy and maximise its impact on ICT effectiveness, and to learn what works when attempting to drive change across government.

As the backdrop to the meeting with its key suppliers, which marks the next phase of its strategic supplier programme, the government re-emphasised its desire to make financial savings and to ensure that it operates in a more business-like fashion.

To help address the deficit and save the taxpayer money, the government introduced temporary controls on spending in areas including advertising and marketing spend, ICT, recruitment, property and consultancy. The result, it says, was £3.75bn of cash savings in 2010-11, and efficiency savings for 2011-12 which it expects will top £5bn.

The government points out that by creating an overall picture of where the money is going, the controls allow it to act strategically in a way it never could before.

Strict controls on ICT expenditure not only reduce costs, but also reveal the software, hardware and services that departments are buying and whether there is a competitive mix of suppliers and software standards across government.

As Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude points out, the government is “relentlessly driving efficiency savings.” Indeed Maude wants Whitehall procurement to match – or even exceed – the private sector in its financial and business ruthlessness.

“I want Whitehall procurement to become as sharp as the best businesses. I will tell companies that we won’t tolerate poor performance and that to work with us you will have to offer the best value for money,” said Maude in advance of the supplier meeting.

The IfG, though, argues that while efficiency savings are welcome, assuming they materialise, only seeing government IT as a cost to be managed can be dangerous.

Its report argues that although most progress made by the government IT community over the last year has been in those areas where savings are easily quantified – specifically in contract renegotiations – a focus on cost should not come at the expense of innovation or expenditure that actually releases savings elsewhere.

Using IT to save public servants and citizens time and money in government transactions – in taxes, benefits, health services and so on – is essential if the coalition is to have any hope of meeting its deficit reduction targets without major adverse impacts on service standards.

It also argues that solutions will not work if they are simply conceived by policymakers and then lobbed over the fence for IT professionals to deliver. As it points out both now, and in its initial report a year ago, the IfG has frequently advocated an agile approach to managing projects: one where policymakers, operational managers, IT staff and – most critically – service users work together throughout the development process.

That is because “circumstances, priorities and technologies change frequently”, so the best option to adopt is a modular approach that delivers some functionality quickly and then reassesses the next priority. This agile approach is now backed by the government, to the extent that it has adopted agile for arguably its most critical project, universal credit, and said it wants 50% of government projects to use agile principles by April 2013.

The IfG suggests that such a goal looks ambitious, despite enthusiasm in parts of the IT profession. Arguably, a tendency to develop new systems has not yet led to more agile working. Indeed, a relatively slow uptake of agile approaches might be due to the relationship between IT professionals and senior civil service leaders.

According to Sir Ian Magee, a senior fellow at the IfG and co-author of the System upgrade? report, agile requires real changes in departmental procurement, policy development and operational management processes, and it is not clear that government IT leaders feel sufficiently confident or supported to challenge departmental board leaders and ministers to do things differently.

In Magee’s experience, “many top level civil servants express discomfort about challenging IT leaders to deliver better, more responsive services, in part due to a shortage of knowledge but also due to a distinct shortage of information on chief information officer (CIO) performance. In a FTSE 100 company, it would be remarkable if the chief executive failed to have a firm grip on the organisation’s technological opportunities.

Permanent secretaries might perhaps look to their new cadre of non-executive directors with relevant experience to help them develop effective metrics for measuring performance. They might also champion an agile approach themselves, rather than leaving it to CIOs to influence intra and cross-departmental behaviour.

The IfG argues that there have been some “commendable early wins” in the ICT strategy’s first year, which ICT leaders should take forwards in their implementation plans. A key factor will be how to incentivise progress, and that comes down to choosing the right metrics. The government, the IfG says, should be cautious about using metrics without reflecting on whether they rigorously represent progress.

Similarly, savings must be open to rigorous scrutiny as to whether they represent real reductions in cost for the same value, or whether they are simply deferred expenditure. CIOs should also question whether they are genuinely improving the ways that they are working in areas such as agile, or whether they are just adding the agile label as a tick in the box.

In short, says the IfG, government needs to consider how it can develop a more enabling centre. So far, it has acted to provide an effective check on the system. Now the approvals process should be able to provide expertise and support to departments in developing cost-effective alternatives, rather than simply being a veto point. ICT leaders should consider whether there are wider things that the centre could do to be supportive, for example, providing benchmarking or offering best practice input into departments’ plans.

With these suggestions in mind, it will be intriguing to know what response the government gets from its 20 key suppliers when they meet. For once, you suspect it won’t be the equivalent of recent EU and G20 summits: lots of bonhomie and no action.

Given Maude’s comments on sharpening Whitehall procurement and warnings that the government should be viewed as one customer, not disparate buying departments – though words don’t always translate into actions – it should be a lively affair.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Posted by admin - June 28, 2012 at 22:33

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HMRC ‘challenged’ by real time information timetable

National Audit Office says HM Revenue and Customs needs a strategy for RTI and universal credit

The National Audit Office has called on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to set out how its business will be changed by the implementation of real time information (RTI) and universal credit.

In its report on HMRC’s performance in 2011-12, the auditor says the timetable for full implementation of RTI is “challenging” and driven by the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) timetable for rolling out universal credit from October next year.

It says that HMRC started a pilot to prepare for the full roll-out of RTI in April, which will mean that employers and pension schemes must report employees’ income tax and national insurance deductions as they pay them, rather than at year end.

By the end of May, more than 200 PAYE schemes covering 1.5m individual records were using RTI.

The auditor says there are signs of improvement in HMRC’s data quality, which is vital to the successful operation of RTI.

It found that as part of its work to help the DWP design universal credit, HMRC is to share its experience to minimise the risk of error and fraud.

But the auditor also says that HMRC has not yet decided how it will migrate existing tax credit awards to universal credit and how it will treat outstanding debts when it has migrated awards.

“Whilst it has a business plan, a customer-centric strategy and a change programme which is seeking to co-ordinate delivery of major projects, the department does not have an organisation-wide operational strategy,” the report says.

“This strategy would set out how it will deliver tax administration in the future, supported by planning of resources, communications with customers and changes to working practices.

“It would help the department to establish the interdependencies between projects and develop an integrated response.”

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Devon NHS 111 withdrawal raises commercial concerns

2.5 million regional patients seen as benchmark for contractual viability

The preferred provider for the NHS 111 service in Devon has confirmed the withdrawal of its bid to provide the service.

Devon Doctors cited commercial factors for its decision to withdraw, leading to fears that other providers may find themselves facing similar prospects. It is understood that vendors have concerns about whether they are winning enough contracts to provide the economies of scale that make it commercially worthwhile for them to provide services.

Chris Wright, the chief executive of Devon Doctors, confirmed that commercial considerations meant that his organisation was not in a position to proceed and had withdrawn its bid to operate the service.

“At the same time, Devon Doctors remains fully committed to the principles of NHS 11 and in our role as provider of the county’s out-of-hours service, we look forward to working with the organisation which is awarded the contract to ensure the people of Devon continue to benefit from a first-class healthcare service,” he added.

The NHS cluster for Devon, Plymouth and Torbay said that the NHS 111 contract for Devon was provisionally awarded to Devon Doctors as the preferred bidder following a competitive tendering process.

It added: “There is a period of time following a provisional contract award when both parties move to conclude the contract. Devon Doctors concluded that they were unable to meet the requirements of the NHS 111 contract for Devon and have subsequently withdrawn their bid. As a result, the award of the NHS 111 contract for Devon has been delayed and alternative options are being considered.”

Other local contracts in the south west have gone to NHS Direct in Cornwall and Somerset and the Scilly Isles, while Harmoni has picked up three contracts in the area.

Some providers believe that to be commercially viable, as a guideline, they need to be delivering NHS 111 services to about 2.5 million patients. Harmoni is estimated to have around 6 million patients – 2.3 million in the South-West and 3.7 million in the London area.

Other areas where bidding still has to be concluded include the north-west, east and west Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Francis Maude: our controlled approach to ICT won’t change

Cabinet Office minister to tell suppliers spending controls and flexible contracts will be a ‘way of life’

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, will warn ICT suppliers today that spending controls will be a “permanent way of life” and that poorly performing companies will find it difficult to win new government contracts.

“Our cross-Whitehall controls on spending have made billions of cash savings for the taxpayer – something that has never been done before,” said Maude.

“That’s why I’m pleased to confirm that our controls will be a permanent feature, helping to change fundamentally the way government operates.”

The 20 key government suppliers at the meeting, which the Cabinet Office said marks the next phase of its strategic supplier programme, represent some £15bn of central government spend.

The suppliers, who include Accenture, Airwave, Atos, BT, Capgemini, Capita, HP, IBM, Logica, Serco and Steria, will be asked for their feedback on the government’s approach to business over the past two years.

To coincide with the meeting, the Cabinet Office said it is publishing new guidance about existing controls over central government procurement.

The guidance will cover controls on ICT contracts; advertising, marketing and communications; strategic supplier management; HR and workforce; and property.

Maude is expected to tell the meeting that formal information on a supplier’s performance will be taken into consideration at the start of and during the procurement process.

The companies will also will be briefed about the expanded Cabinet Office team of negotiators and crown representatives. The team is intended to maximise the government’s bulk-buying power to obtain discounts and end inflexible contracts.

The Cabinet Office also said that the team is intended to make life easier for business by providing a single contact.

Maude said: “We are ensuring that government operates in a more businesslike fashion than ever before. To deal with the deficit we inherited in 2010 and to protect every taxpayer’s pound we are relentlessly driving efficiency savings.”

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Taskforce bids to make mutuals a mainstream option for public services

Report calls for procurement exemptions for fast-growing mutuals sector

A report by the government’s mutuals taskforce has found that the number of public sector mutuals has increased six-fold since 2010, meaning barriers must be overcome to make what the taskforce calls “a burgeoning movement” become “a mainstream option for public service delivery.”

In the report, Public service mutuals: the next steps, the taskforce, chaired by Professor Julian Le Grand, makes a series of recommendations designed to give mutuals a launch pad and to overcome the barriers facing public servants who form mutual businesses and take control of their services.

The report shows that since 2010 the number of public service mutuals has increased from nine to at least 58 with a further 40 projects in the pipeline. In the same time, the services in which mutuals are developing has diversified from four (health, social work, education and leisure) to 12 (including fire services, housing and libraries).

One of the key mutuals projects is at Hammersmith and Fulham council, which has been designated by the Cabinet Office one of its ‘pathfinder’ projects to explore new ways of delivering public services more efficiently. The services include financial management support and budget planning, IT and building development projects, as well as strategic advice to councils.

In its report, the mutuals taskforce says that emerging, new and established mutuals all face challenges. Underlying many of these is the basic fact that mutuals move out of the public sector as fully functioning, established organisations, that are already delivering services on which people rely.

This contrasts significantly with the more common organisational development path followed by small and medium sized enterprises: organic growth and development. While the challenges that mutuals face are not insurmountable,

the taskforce believes there is much more that can be done to lower or actually remove both the real and the perceived barriers to mutualisation and to encourage more staff who are interested in pursuing these opportunities to do so.

Overall, the taskforce says, it has become aware of the importance for leaders and employees within emerging and established public service mutuals to continue to grow and develop commercial skills. These are partly technical skills, but this is also part of a wider culture change from delivering services within a public sector organisation to entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to delivering services through new independent organisations.

Professor Le Grand, said: “This is no utopian fantasy. Mutuals deliver higher quality services at lower cost to tax payers. So it’s with some jubilation that I can report a movement, led by truly entrepreneurial public servants, has taken root and is growing. But we simply cannot rely on there being enough exceptional leaders to make this a mainstream delivery option. The path to mutualisation must be made easier.

“Public service mutuals develop differently to other SMEs, often becoming businesses overnight. This must be reflected in new regulation, new investment and greater support. But, most importantly, we are calling for change inside the public sector. The will to develop mutuals and improve public services is there at the very top of government and on the frontline. But too often there is a gulf in the middle where risk-averse managers, ignorant of the benefits, impede progress.” 

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said: “Frontline staff are the real experts: they know what’s important to the people they help every day. Forming a mutual lets them focus on local needs with less bureaucratic interference. It’s no surprise that as more services mutualise we are seeing real benefits.

“We will now consider how to take the recommendations forward but, in particular, I am already aware of the problems with EU procurement regulations and will push for reform.”

Some of the task force’s key recommendations include:

• The government, led by the Cabinet Office, should continue to negotiate for greater clarity of and improvements to EU public procurement rules that support newly formed public service mutuals and for clarity on existing rules.

• By December 2012 each relevant government department should set out a clear plan and vision for developing and implementing mutualisation policy, including Rights to Provide.

• Each department should set out a clear pathway for staff wishing to pursue mutualisation in the service areas for which the department is responsible, working closely with the Mutuals Support Programme if and when support is required.

• The Cabinet Office should convene and co-ordinate a network of ‘mutuals ambassadors’ to drive forward the creation and growth of mutuals on the ground.

• Departments should use their websites and other forms of communication with workforces and service providers to signpost sources of information, advice and support for leaders and employees interested in mutualisation.

• The Cabinet Office (including the Government Digital Service) should work with departments to ensure that the Mutuals Information Service is proactively marketed across relevant government communication channels, including cross-government and individual departmental websites.

• The Cabinet Office should work with other government departments, in particular the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to commission the collection and analysis of evidence emanating from mutuals providing public services and working in other sectors across the economy.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Posted by admin -  at 08:32

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David Pitchford promises better control of major projects

Major Projects Authority chief says approval processes for big ICT projects will be aligned by the end of 2012

David Pitchford, the executive director of the government’s Major Projects Authority (MPA), has told MPs that the separation of control between HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office over the approval of major ICT projects will be aligned before the end of the year.

He was speaking at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about assurance for major projects, where the issue of control, identified in a National Audit Office report last month, was raised.

The report said that the Cabinet Office has controls over projects with an ICT component valued at £5m plus, or £1m for ICT systems that support administration. Central government project teams are unclear about how these controls align to the HM Treasury approval process for major projects, however.

Earlier in the hearing, Marc van Grondells, head of joint ventures at KPMG, said that rather than being abandoned, failing projects can often be reset. In the private sector, failing projects were tackled early on and were more likely to be reset than those in the public sector, he said.

Committee member Richard Bacon asked Pitchford whether the MPA should have the power to reset major projects. The MPA chief said: “To a certain extent we do have the capability, but there does need to be a certain arrangement that can be actioned.

“We do not have the power to make a wholesale change, but we do have the power when a project has been running ‘red’.”

Sharon White, the Treasury’s director general of public spending, said that the MPA had used its existing powers to reset three major projects: the NHS National Programme for IT, carbon capture and e-Borders.

Margaret Hodge, the PAC chair, said the committee was very supportive of the principle of the MPA. The organisation was launched by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reforms Group in March 2011 with the intention of tackling the poor performance which has led to the failure of government projects.

A significant concern to a number of MPs on the committee, however, was the lack of resources available to the MPA, which operates with 38 staff. Hodge said: “You are being set up for failure”.

Amyas Morse, the NAO chief, added that the authority is very dependent on a few key people, including Pitchford, and that if it is going to be successful, it will need more resources.

In response, Pitchford said the organisation did not – and will not – have larger resources and had to prioritise its work.

He said the MPA will introduce two more “pillars”. Firstly, an academy which will recruit and train 90 people a year in the management of big projects; and secondly, a civil service project leaders’ network, which will bring together all SROs and directors of major projects to interact, and to exchange information and support.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Posted by admin -  at 08:31

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Francis Maude: no more ICT rip offs

Cabinet Office minister to tell suppliers spending controls and flexible contracts will be a ‘way of life’

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, will warn ICT suppliers today that spending controls will be a “permanent way of life” and that poorly performing companies will find it difficult to win new government contracts.

“Our cross-Whitehall controls on spending have made billions of cash savings for the taxpayer – something that has never been done before,” said Maude.

“That’s why I’m pleased to confirm that our controls will be a permanent feature, helping to change fundamentally the way government operates.”

The 20 key government suppliers at the meeting, which the Cabinet Office said marks the next phase of its strategic supplier programme, represent some £15bn of central government spend.

The suppliers, who include Accenture, Airwave, Atos, BT, Capgemini, Capita, HP, IBM, Logica, Serco and Steria, will be asked for their feedback on the government’s approach to business over the past two years.

To coincide with the meeting, the Cabinet Office said it is publishing new guidance about existing controls over central government procurement.

The guidance will cover controls on ICT contracts; advertising, marketing and communications; strategic supplier management; HR and workforce; and property.

Maude is expected to tell the meeting that formal information on a supplier’s performance will be taken into consideration at the start of and during the procurement process.

The companies will also will be briefed about the expanded Cabinet Office team of negotiators and crown representatives. The team is intended to maximise the government’s bulk-buying power to obtain discounts and end inflexible contracts.

The Cabinet Office also said that the team is intended to make life easier for business by providing a single contact.

Maude said: “We are ensuring that government operates in a more businesslike fashion than ever before. To deal with the deficit we inherited in 2010 and to protect every taxpayer’s pound we are relentlessly driving efficiency savings.”

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Posted by admin -  at 08:31

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Whittington trust: teleconferencing means quicker discharge rates

North London NHS trust says teleconferencing delivers £150,000 savings a year

The Whittington hospital NHS trust is speeding its discharge rates and saving about £150,000 a year by using teleconferencing, according to Jar O’Brien, team leader for Islington’s community rehabilitation services.

He said the system, a hosted audio-conferencing service supplied by BT, costs £6,000 a year to run. O’Brien said that savings have been calculated on the basis of a reduction in both bed costs and penalty charges, incurred through a cross-charging mechanism between health and social, for discharge delays.

Typically about 25 patients each day are reviewed during the teleconference, and O’Brien adds that the system enabled the Whittington to free up more than 400 beds days a year.

The Whittington introduced teleconferencing in May 2009, since when it has moved from being one of the worst performing trusts in London for delayed patient discharge to one of the best.

O’Brien said that each day the hospital social administration team for Islington compiles a spreadsheet of the patients who need to be discharged from hospital.

This spreadsheet is used as the basis for the teleconference, held on week days at around mid-day. It is chaired by O’Brien or a member of his team, and brings together up to 15 people from the patient discharge team, the hospital social work team and community services, such as the re-ablement team.

“We are literally running through the list, seeing which actions need to be carried out and what other information is needed,” said O’Brien. “And we literally calling on social workers or ward staff for an update.”

He said that technically the system has delivered a good service: “We had more teething problems with our own spreadsheets and processes than we did around the actual BT provision.

“Initially there were a lot of sceptical people, but I championed it and people who were sceptical in week one were no longer skeptical in week two, because it was very easy to use.”

Last month the Whittington also announced that has signed at contract with System C for its Medway patient administration and e-patient record system. The trust intends that the system will go live in 2013.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing network here.


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Government strikes £70m software savings deals with Microsoft and SAP

Deals will dodge planned software licence increases, offer better software maintenance terms and provide licence transferability

The government has renegotiated deals with Microsoft and SAP which will deliver combined savings of £70m, largely from discounts which also give users across government greater licence re-use and transferability.

Potential savings across the public sector, including maintenance fees, could be £150m by 2015.

The £70m figure comprises an estimated £65m in savings from Microsoft, which includes an agreement providing better commercial terms and a revised discount schedule for the public sector, and £3m from SAP discounts.

The Microsoft negotiation includes an agreement that the government will avoid having to pay the price increase that will affect many other Microsoft users from next month.

The SAP savings could reach £5m depending on the volume of licences purchased: there are about 125,000 users of SAP software in central government. The deal also includes a 22% improvement in year-on-year software maintenance charges.

The government said both deals will also benefit councils, health trusts, police authorities and other bodies that can access the deal through the government procurement service. Such public sector organisations typically account for around two-thirds of total public sector spend with Microsoft, which the government says will deliver further savings of tens of millions of pounds.

Cabinet Office minster Francis Maude said: “The old days of signing huge, inflexible IT contracts are gone forever. We have skilled negotiators within government and we are building up this expertise, taking a strategic view and acting as the taxpayer’s champion. These new deals will provide better IT at cheaper prices for police, NHS and council workers across the country.

“This is better for business, too – we now work more intelligently with our big suppliers and there’s more transparency over future buying plans. Microsoft and SAP are showing leadership by grasping the opportunity to work more intelligently with public sector.

“This new approach to doing business goes right to the heart of the efficiency agenda. We are delivering unprecedented savings – figures for last year are currently being audited and are expected to show that over £5bn was saved through more efficient government.”

Dr Nicola Hodson, General Manager Public Sector, Microsoft, said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement with the Cabinet Office, which fully supports the government’s goals of reducing public sector expenditure, while at the same time transforming public services through the adoption of new technologies.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Cabinet Office and public sector organisations and our 30,000 partners in the UK – the vast majority of which are small businesses – to deliver improved outcomes.”

David Mills, head of public sector UK and Ireland at SAP, said: “SAP is delighted to be continuing our relationship with the UK public sector and this agreement highlights a more mature way of us working together.  The agreement allows for the sharing of SAP resources across the whole of the public sector, therefore creating more flexibility and reducing overall costs.”

Jos Creese, the chief information officer at Hampshire county council and chair of the Local Public Services CIO Council, said: “SAP is widely used across larger local authorities, many of whom increasingly need to be able to work together.

“Having access to a single and flexible framework that makes this possible and reduces costs is, therefore, very welcome. Sixteen large local authorities and regional governments have so far supported this ambition and the activity which has led to this agreement. I hope more contracts can be shared more readily in this way across the different tiers of government.”

Negotiations with the two suppliers, which the government said had been tough, took nine months with Microsoft and six months with SAP. They follow similar agreements with Oracle and Capgemini.

What has also emerged is the extent to which governments around the world are now sharing information on their IT costs to bear down on suppliers’ pricing. The government indicated that it had had discussions on IT usage and costs with a number of other administrations, including the US, Canada, the Baltic states and the Netherlands.

On Thursday the government will reiterate its “one government as customer” message to suppliers in a meeting in which it will solicit feedback on its approach to ICT procurement.

Bill Crothers, executive director for commercial relationships at the Cabinet Office, said many vendors had accepted the government’s position, but others had yet to fully take on board its message.

“This approach is not going to go away. This is now how we do business,” he said.

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For weekly updates on news, debate and best practice on public sector IT, join the Guardian Government Computing netwo


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