Big government gets tough at last

Sometimes the biggest and strongest are the hardest to get riled. While little tough guys may shout, kick and fight at the drop of a hat, the ones with the strength to really make a difference are often reluctant to get drawn into conflict.

Maybe that is just as well. But it does mean that when the eight-hundred-pound gorilla finally decides to weigh in, we all need to look out...

About a year ago the coalition government published an ICT strategy paper focusing on government IT spend and what they were going to do about its apparently uncontrolled rise.

Not before time, we personal and commercial taxpayers were probably thinking. The lack of cost control on government IT spend in previous years was, and is, legendary.

The wreckage is still all around us, as ongoing discussions between CSC and the NHS over the NPfIT attest.

The promised announcement of IT savings achieved so far has been delayed by a couple of months, but the first fruits of the planned cost clampdown are already apparent.


Several years after the commercial sector applied its own, recession-driven, cost clampdown by force, our government gorilla has finally hit out.

In the last few weeks several major announcements can be directly attributed to this new ICT strategy.

In mid-March the Cabinet Office announced that one of the UK’s biggest IT services suppliers, Capgemini, will help lead savings over £200m by 2017.

The savings come in the form of an Aspire contract which provides IT services including computers and tax and credit systems like online VAT filing.

The Cabinet Office also claims more transparency of pricing and freedom to control who it uses for what in the IT area of its requirements.

Two weeks later another announcement outlined savings of at least £75m on new contracts signed with Oracle – a company which reaches into just about every part of government with its ERP products.