Revenue staff want quality from winning IT supplier

IT professionals at the sharp end of the Inland Revenue's £7.6bn tender for its IT services have urged the Government to listen...

IT professionals at the sharp end of the Inland Revenue's £7.6bn tender for its IT services have urged the Government to listen to their views when awarding what promises to be Europe's largest public sector contract next year.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents computer staff working at both the Inland Revenue and its key IT contractor EDS, recently commissioned Opinion Leader Research to find out what its members want from the deal.

Earlier this year Inland Revenue launched a tender competition, called Aspire, to provide technology services to the department when its contracts with current suppliers EDS and Accenture end in 2004.

The union survey highlights quality of service, respect for employees and a commitment to effective partnership working as major concerns.

Union members want the Government to ensure that the chosen bidder offers the highest quality service, not just the cheapest price, and to guarantee that the business remains in the UK.

The survey manifesto also urged Inland Revenue and the successful supplier to work with the union to end a "long hours" culture and develop a career and learning agenda for the department's workforce.

Union officials said the initiative could also bring about an end to costly government IT disasters such as those that blighted the Passport Agency and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

Colin Sambrook, PCS senior national officer, said, "All too often the outsourcing of computerisation services in the public sector ends in disaster. The projects start by promising impressive gains in efficiency and service but end in a poorer service and huge amounts of wasted public money."

As key stakeholders in the project, the union warns that it is vital that its members' views are considered at every stage of the tendering process of a 10-year contract that could see the transfer of 3,000 employees.

An Inland Revenue spokesman said, "We welcome the PCS manifesto and its ongoing and constructive engagement in the competition."

Earlier this week 350 PCS members at EDS in Worthing attended a rally to listen to union representatives outline key elements of its manifesto.

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