Troubled supplier Fujitsu has been 'blacklisted' from tendering for future government contracts as part of a new programme to assign a level of risk, based on past performance, to companies wanting to engage in future bids for public sector work.
Fujitsu has been branded as too ‘high risk’ to take on new government work, along with one other unnamed IT services contractor, according to reports in the Financial Times.
Neither Fujitsu nor the Cabinet Office is willing to confirm or deny the reports. Computerworld UK has also previously requested details of blacklisted suppliers under the Freedom of Information Act but was refused names due to ‘commercial interests’.
Recent points of conflict between Fujitsu and government include a £700 million dispute with the NHS overits role in the controversial £12 billion National Programme for IT and the Department for Work and Pensions cancelling a £330 million six year desktop deal.
Fujitsu is not only a major player in central government but also at a local authority level, where it is currently bidding for hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money to rollout next generation broadband networks.
The decision to label Fujitsu too ‘high risk’ for central government contracts will raise questions among procurement chiefs and CIOs elsewhere in the public sector, particularly those looking after regional broadband contracts. Any move to sideline Fujitsu could further increase BT’s dominance in the process of bidding for public funds through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude first sent a letter to all Cabinet ministers in July detailing the new processes for blacklisting high risk suppliers that have underperformed in the past. This was shortly after a meeting Maude held with 20 of the government’s top suppliers in June, where he informed them that performance would be monitored and made available at the start of and during any procurement process.
Public sector commentators have noted that Maude’s new approach may also cause problems for ministers in the future, as it may discourage vendors from wanting to work for the public sector, for fear of a damaged reputation, with no guarantee of future work.
Suppliers take risks working for the public sector because failures are always incredibly well publicised. In the past this hasn’t worried suppliers as has been an ‘unwritten understanding’ between government and the private sector that there will always be future contracts in the pipeline. This has now been turned on its head with the emergence of the ‘blacklist’.