Small, cheap, open source and off-the-shelf IT is what the government wants

The Telegraph has reported on comments made by Cabiet Minister Francis Maude, when speaking to the CEOs of the government’s big IT suppliers.

He talked about reducing the size of deals and opening up the sector to more suppliers. He also talks about using off-the-shelf technology and open source software. Of course we all knew this, but it is always good to have it reaffirmed. Especially when it is coming from politicians.

No more easy margins is the message. Maude is reported to have said: “The days of the mega IT contracts are over, we will need you to rethink the way you approach projects, making them smaller, off the shelf and open source where possible.

“We will expect you to be transparent in all your dealings with us and for the terms of the contracts we sign with you to go up online.”

Click here for the full Telegraph story.

The private sector is has been moving away from mega-deals for years and this is currently accelerating.

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Funny. Every time I suggest small, cheap, free or open-source solutions to my government clients, they back away furiously, straight into the arms of the fat consultancy that is currently charging them an arm and a leg for a grotesquely complex over-engineered solution. They prefer to reassure themselves that they are Special, that their (actually fairly mundane) requirements are Special and can only be satisfied by Specially expensive bespoke gold-plated solutions from their Special friends in the consultancy, so they haven't been Specially wasteful in spending millions of taxpayers pounds, and years of development time, on needlessly complex and ineffective solutions. Yes, some government clients really are prime examples of Special Needs ...