The UK government has released a guide to public sector technology procurement which promises to offer suppliers an overview of future technology spending in the £46 billion ($60 billion) market.
The Cabinet Office, which oversees intergovernmental initiatives, has issued a “playbook” in 11 points on IT procurement and outsourcing in the UK public sector.
Aimed at trade, finance, project delivery and other professionals in the UK public sector, it said ‘publishing trade pipelines helps suppliers understand likely future demand across government’ .
“By sharing early information on planned activities,” he said, “we can expect to achieve broader participation and diversity in our supply chains, including SMEs, and to support longer-term capacity building. Effectively signaling upcoming demand across government will drive better innovation and allow the market to respond effectively.”
The idea is that commercial pipelines should plan at least 18 months ahead, but preferably three to five years. It is similar to an approach taken by British construction. For more than 10 years, the government has released forward-looking pipelines of planned projects and programs in economic and social infrastructure. It’s unclear whether IT-related spending plans will be centrally collated in the same way.
Introducing the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, Public Service COO Alex Chisholm said its main goals are to take a “results-based approach” focused on user needs, not specific solutions. It also wants to “avoid and remediate legacy IT and tackle technical debt,” “ensure cybersecurity to maintain operational resilience,” and “enable innovation, from continuous improvement to transformative new products and services.” “.
Its other goals are to “drive sustainability in our environment, our business practices and our economy” and “to level the playing field for SMEs to enable economic growth, jobs and investment opportunities”.
The policy reform package defines how the government plans to assess, acquire, and manage IT products and services. Areas he wants to address include online public services, business systems, back-office systems including finance and human resources, and infrastructure.
The guidance promises that contracting authorities should follow a “proportionate and evidence-based process” to decide whether projects should be carried out in-house or outsourced, or a combination of the two.
IT outsourcing and contracting is an area where the UK public sector seems to be taking off. Speaking at a Westminster Forum event earlier this month, Yvonne Gallagher, digital director of the National Audit Office’s public spending watchdog, said engaging business partners on big projects computers was “problematic on all sides”.
“We’ve found in large-scale programs that before things actually start, [there is] insufficient thinking, analysis, architecture and design. Often this is actually ignored,” she said.
Meanwhile, contracts tended to be created based on business cases for projects “without a very good understanding of the requirements”. ®