The Government’s decision to axe education IT buying agency Becta has been met with approval by channel onlookers.
In a press statement earlier today, HM Treasury confirmed that the agency was one of a number of " low-value" programmes to be axed as part of a series of government spending reforms aimed at tackling the UK’s £156bn budget deficit.
The closure of Becta, which was set up in 1998 by Labour to promote learning through the use of technology, is expected to save the Department for Education £80m between 2010 and 2011.
Paul Evans, managing director of Redstor, a back up and data management vendor that works with 85 local education authorities (LEAs), said the government’s decision did not come as a shock.
He said: “It is terrible news for the people who will lose their jobs, but these are austere times we are living in now and Becta is a luxury we cannot afford.”
Evans predicts that removing Becta, and its accompanying IT procurement framework, will be warmly welcomed by niche vendors that have struggled to find favour with the agency.
“In order to get on the framework, you had to prove to Becta that you could deliver a full range of IT services, making it difficult for firms that focus on one or two areas to get a look in,” he said.
“Potentially, this could present smaller, niche vendors with the opportunity to catch the attention of the public sector.”
This is a view shared by Lee Bevan, managing director of VAR Leapfrog AVIT.
“The announcement represents a massive opportunity for us,” he said. “Becta sometimes stood in the way of companies such as Leapfrog, preventing them from doing face-to-face work in the education sector.”
According to Becta’s website, part of its remit was to “develop propositions to achieve future efficiencies”.
Peter Dawes-Huish, chief executive of open source supplier Linux IT, said the organisation’s lack of vision prevented it from delivering on this front.
He said: “It [Becta] did not have the vision to encourage more widespread adoption of open source based platforms in the education sector, which could bring huge efficiency savings.”
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