MPs to publish report on Govt IT rip-offs – “time for a new approach”

By Tony Collins

On Thursday the Public Administration Select Committee will publish “Government and IT— a recipe for rip-offs: time for a new approach”.

The report is the culmination of months of investigation by the Committee and its advisers into the way government buys and uses IT.

The Committee’s witnesses included representatives of SMEs who suggested that government IT is dominated by a few large suppliers that charge too much and suppress innovation.

One of the SME representatives, Martin Rice, said the IT industry should apologise.  He told the Committee: “I think the IT industry should  publicly apologise to the citizen for the rip-offs of the last 10 or 20 years.”

He added:
“We are reinventing the wheel and it should not be allowed.  As a taxpayer, I am very angry about this … A lot of these problems have been solved; they are not being brought to the Government because of the oligarchy.  It is not in a profitable interest to bring you these paradigms.  That is why I feel the oligarchy has to stop…”
In written evidence Rice said that prime contractors, being the gatekeepers for some projects, “can and do prevent deployment of innovation that can make subsequent change requests cheap or quick to do as they threaten their lucrative revenue streams”.
Lawyer Susan Atkinson was among those who argued in their written evidence that agile methods can be usefully adopted by departments.

2 responses to “MPs to publish report on Govt IT rip-offs – “time for a new approach”

  1. Pingback: Govt IT - A Recipe For Rip-Offs | OpenUK

  2. Let’s take the Home Office’s passport application system* as an example of a government IT contract.

    First that contract was with Siemens. Then it was with CSC. In real terms, RPI inflation-adjusted, the value of the contract has trebled in 10 or 11 years. Strange, an old man thought to himself, the system has been developed and deployed, surely it should now be in maintenance mode, how can maintenance cost so much?

    And then an old man’s eye is caught by the excellent Martin Rice’s comment, “We are reinventing the wheel …”.

    He doesn’t mean, does he, tell me he doesn’t, that CSC re-wrote the passport application system from scratch instead of “just” taking over Siemens’s code? That isn’t how it works, is it?




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