Systems integrators 'charge more in paperwork than SMEs do in delivery’

A systems integrator asked for more money from the government for an IT product proposal than an SME was able to deliver the actual service for.

A major systems integrator (SI) asked for more money to write a report on the options available for a government IT requirement than an SME supplier quoted to provide the actual service that was needed.

The example demonstrates the outrageous costs government is used to paying for its IT, according toChris Chant, director of the G-Cloud programme.

“We asked an incumbent SI to do an options paper for a product and the price they asked for doing that was more than an SME was offering for that same service,” Chant told delegates at the Public Sector Efficiency Expo conference in London.

Chant said the notion of long-term SI contracts has become a discredited model: “We are not getting value for money in contracts, some of which are measured in decades rather than years. There are only a few people now who are clinging on to the idea that gets you value for money.”

Prices listed on the government's CloudStore, a catalogue of 1,700 on-demand public sector IT services, reveal large discrepancies in government IT pricing, he said – citing the example of a small hosting company charging £179 per user per month for a Linux server, compared to a large systems integrator asking for £745 per user per month for a similar product at the same security level accreditation.

Chant also said the move to cloud computing would make many client-side IT roles redundant, referring to Computer Weekly’s research which found central government has a workforce of 8,000 IT staff. The CloudStore’s pan-government accreditation would lead to the rationalisation of IT roles, he said.

“There are people doing security accreditation, and chasing down procurements; [many of those roles are] all duplicated. That we might have as many as 100,000 people [across the public sector] doing that in this environment is just nuts.”

Chant said that in its first week the CloudStore received 20,000 unique visitors, 250,000 page views and 100,000 tweets: “So we know there is interest in this.”

The Cabinet Office is to introduce a CloudStore "personal shopper" for departments to help them achieve better value for money.  It will also make the CloudStore’s APIs available to enable other organisations to replicate the portal, potentially resulting in several versions, he said.

Last week, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, part of the Department for Transport, became the first government department to purchase a service through the CloudStore.


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