Government wants more firms to bid for public sector contracts

The Government is seeking ways of persuading more major IT companies to bid for public sector work, the e-envoy Andrew Pinder has...

The Government is seeking ways of persuading more major IT companies to bid for public sector work, the e-envoy Andrew Pinder has told MPs.

At a meeting of Parliament's main financial watchdog, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Pinder said too few of the computer giants are prepared to tender for Whitehall contracts.

Backed by Hugh Barrett, executive director for supplier relations and e-commerce at the Office of Government Commerce, Pinder said too many suppliers believe that contracts are awarded purely on the basis of lowest cost.

His comments come as EDS and Accenture are poised to bid jointly for the Inland Revenue and national insurance computer systems, which they respectively already run separately. This is understood to have scared off competitors from bidding.

Pinder agreed with Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel that the Government is "getting too dependent on too few IT suppliers".

He said he is concerned about this and that the Government is working to persuade possible suppliers that the wider question of "value for money'' rather than low price is the main consideration.

Pinder said the Government is also trying to reduce the protracted length of time it takes to award contracts, which is a major disincentive to bidding. He added that some companies are wary of the potential damage to their reputation from a high-profile government contract going wrong and the publicity that comes with it.

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