The government has vowed to remove the procurement barriers that prevent SMBs successfully competing for public sector IT contracts.
Encouraging reuse of equipment and greater uptake of open-source software are also earmarked as top priorities in a report from cabinet office minister Francis Maude (pictured), published today. Projects costing more than £100m will become a thing of the past, according to the Government ICT Strategy report.
"Where possible, government will move away from large ICT projects that are slow to implement or pose a greater risk of failure," it states. "[It] will also put an end to the oligopoly of large suppliers that monopolise its ICT provision and streamline the procurement process to breakdown the barriers that impede SMEs from bidding for contracts."
The government claims the reforms will create a "fairer and more competitive marketplace" and, in turn, stimulate economic growth.
Speaking to ChannelWeb, Forum of Private Business representative Chris Gorman said the reforms would be welcomed by SMBs.
"Experience has shown that awarding big contracts to massive suppliers is no guarantee of success," he said. "By opening up the market to SMBs, competition for these contracts will rise and that should lead to the cost of them coming down."
The report also states government departments will be encouraged to cut waste by reusing IT kit. "Departments, agencies and public bodies rarely reuse and adapt systems that are off the shelf or have already been commissioned by another part of the government, leading to wasteful duplication," it read.
To encourage reuse, the rollout of a cross-government asset register has been proposed, which will allow departments to track and reuse equipment that is not in use elsewhere.
Askar Sheibani, chief executive of IT repair firm Comtek, said the government's reuse strategy sounds promising.
"What they are proposing is good, but it could go further. There is no reference in the report about encouraging departments to procure reused equipment in the first place, which would be a good way of extending the policy."
Wider use of open-source software was another area outlined as a way to improve the interoperability of IT systems between departments.
Bertrand Diard, chief executive of open-source data management vendor Talend, said the move would generate significant cost savings.
"The new IT strategy identifies problems such as a lack of system interoperability and poor infrastructure integration, which can all be addressed with open-source software because of its compatibility with all legacy systems," he said.
"This is a real recognition by the government that open source can induce tremendous costs savings without compromising functionality."
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