Government is making progress with big suppliers, claims Maude

By Sooraj Shah
11 Dec 2013 View Comments
Minister of the Cabinet Office Francis Maude

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said that the government has made progress in the way it deals with big suppliers.

Maude was speaking at the Cabinet Office yesterday where he updated the media on how the government has fared one year on from the launch of its digital strategy.

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Last month, a former Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employee told Computing that the government doesn't fire enough of the big name suppliers who have wasted "billions of pounds" on failed IT projects.

But Maude was bullish about the way that government is now working with suppliers.

"We always said that where we have a relationship with a big supplier, we want it to be a strategic relationship and we want it to feel like a partnership, which means that we expect to see consistent pricing and a very high degree of visibility and transparency," Maude stated.

"So we don't expect the partnership to contain very opaque contracts, we don't expect to see automatic extensions to contracts. We expect to see smaller contractions and more capacity in-house for us to do the integration ourselves," he added.

There should be, Maude said, a separation between integration and provision of services, so the same supplier should not be the integrator and supplier of services.

"We have made a lot of progress but still have a lot of legacy. When I speak to the Prime Minister of the world's leading e-government, Estonia, he tells me that they had two advantages when they became independent - they had no legacy and had no money," the minister said.

"The smartest of the systems integrators will see that coming and will want to embrace the new world rather than rely on milking the old world, so that's where we are - the jury's out," he said.

Maude declined to comment on the DWP's Universal Credit debacle, stating that there were "inconsistencies" across the whole of government.

"I would say that the team that has developed the exemplar digital solution - what everyone sees as the strategic long-term answer to Universal Credit, has been predominantly a DWP team with some really terrific people and this will be taken forward by DWP.

"This is never about the solutions being provided exclusively by the Government Digital Service (GDS), it is GDS working with in-house teams very creatively, bringing in outside contractors and developers to work intensively with the department," he said.

"The DWP team working on digital has GDS team members in there, and in the space of three months they developed the spine - a relatively thin spine - but a digital solution and that will be developed on," he added.

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