Government CIO invites Indian IT suppliers to bid for contracts and inadvertently reveals disharmany

There is no single voice declaring IT strategy for government departments, which needs to be addressed if IT is to play its role in cutting costs sfter today’s spending review.

John Suffolk told one of my colleagues this week that Indian IT suppliers should bid for IT work. In fact so enthusiastic is he, in the face of budgets cuts to departments, he said “bid, bid, bid.”

So the other week we had a senior IT executive at a central government department claiming that Indian suppliers didn’t stand a chance of winning big government deals, because they lack skills associated with taking over a contract. Here is the full story.

And now we have the government CIO suggesting Indian firms bid. Confused? Well that’s federated decision making for you.

I must admit most people I spoke to in the industry, about the IT executive that thought the Indian suppliers had no chance,  thought he was out of his mind.

One comentator said he was being disingenuous.

Another said the opinion that Indian suppliers have no chance of winning large government deals “is a typical example of an uninformed government buyer who are a dying breed.”

But Suffolk has put it straight that Indian suppliers should bid for work, suggesting they do in fact have a chance.

But in the current system Suffolk is only an adviser and does not have the power to make departmental CIOs look hard at offshoring.

So the senior IT executive in a central government department will still not consider the Indian suppliers because he thinks they lack important skills.

This is one of the big problems with government IT. The CIO lacks teeth.

Unless an individual is given the job to drive change and the authority to enforce it, inefficiencies in the public sector will continue. Transformation across departments, unlike a departmental transformation, requires the co-operation of disparate power bases which have traditionally made their own decisions.

Maybe the spending review will give Suffolk the sharp teeth he needs to drive change. Maybe this will lead to Indian suppliers working in UK government contracts.

Let’s face it IBM, HP and Capgemini, to name a few, have large workforces in India already that do a lot of the work on UK central government contracts.