Government bares its teeth to IT suppliers - at last

The government is certainly baring its teeth towards IT suppliers.

In the past few days, two companies – Cable & Wireless and Capita – have warned about a profit hit as a result of Cabinet Office demands to reduce the value of existing IT contracts.

And today, the Trusted Borders consortium led by Raytheon Systems has been sacked from the £750m e-Borders project after repeated delays and the government losing confidence in the supplier’s ability to deliver.

With a widespread review of IT contracts underway at the Cabinet Office, there’s every chance Raytheon won’t be the last contractor to get its knuckles officially rapped or to be sent packing.

It’s an obvious thing to say – but it is about time the government kicked back on the IT industry.

Computer Weekly may have been full of stories about government IT disasters over the years, but frankly we’re all pretty fed up that they keep happening – it’s our tax money they are wasting after all.

Repeated National Audit Office criticisms and continuous advice and consultancy on how to improve large-scale IT projects has failed to stop the tide.

Of course, it’s not entirely the suppliers fault – government must take its equal share of the blame as well. It is rare that a major project failure is entirely down to bad suppliers – bad customers exist too.

But the message being sent out by the government is that it will take a hard line on problem projects – and you can bet it will be reviewing a few where public servants are culpable too.

Sometimes it really is the best decision to accept that there is a problem and call a project or a contract to a halt, even if it means red faces and close scrutiny of wasted spending. After all, there would be a lot more wasted spending if the project is still struggling along in a few years’ time.

The government’s hard line on IT suppliers is a welcome move.