Government publishes plans for £1.6bn of IT contracts

The Cabinet Office has published details of £1.6bn of planned IT contracts to be awarded by central government over the next three years.

The Cabinet Office has published details of £1.6bn of planned IT contracts to be awarded by central government over the next three years.

The spending is part of a total of £70bn of purchasing plans published across a variety of sectors on the Business Link Contracts Finder website.

Of the G-Cloud, the Whitehall cloud computing initiative, which expects £250m of spend to the end of 2015.

The projects that have been shown in the pipeline of contracts are only those to be let by central government departments, and do not include any deals for the NHS or local authorities – although there are several police forces advertising planned contracts.

"Never before has a government been so open about its long-term business needs," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

"Publishing data on what we plan to buy – whether it’s tunnels or computers – means we can identify skills gaps sooner and give industry a heads up so UK businesses are in a better position to compete."

Secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable added, "In the coming years the government will purchase billions of pounds worth of equipment and services, which means billions of pounds worth of potential opportunities for UK business. By publishing details of our expected future requirements ahead of time and adopting a strategic approach, we can help give UK suppliers the confidence to invest in people, plants and technologies."

The government also wants to use the pipeline of contracts to help identify potential skills shortages in key industries – something that is a recurring issue for IT.

The Cabinet Office also released an analysis of "strategic capability" for the construction and tunnelling industries to highlight the skills needed to meet future demand. Similar analysis has been promised for other sectors, including IT.

A number of IT suppliers have committed to a "procurement pledge" to promise to support the government's plans to reform public sector purchasing. Signatories include BT, Capgemini, HP and IT industry trade body Intellect.

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Any government MUST get value for the taxpayer. If overseas companies or employees are more efficient or prepared to work for lower margins than UK based ones then, to minimise the burden on the taxpayer, the work should go overseas.

The government should not prop up inefficient UK companies, but encourage them to get their house in order by rigorous competition.