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Tories: We’ll open the market for government IT contracts

Tories: We’ll open the market for government IT contracts

SMEs promised a chance to bid

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The Conservative Party has promised to open up the market for government IT contracts to more suppliers.

In a new Technology Manifesto, the Tories criticised the fact that nine suppliers had been awarded 60 percent of government IT work during Labour’s time in power.

The Tories did not name suppliers, but providers that have commonly won public sector IT contracts include IBM, Fujitsu, BT, CSC, Logica, Civica, Accenture, HP and EDS (the last two now being one company).

It said the government had "failed to use these procurement projects to stimulate innovation and growth in the economy." Government IT is gaining prevalence as an election issue, after the Conservatives claimed the government was rushing through billions of pounds worth of IT projects, that would be difficult to cancel, ahead of an election in May.

By capping IT schemes at £100 million, the Conservatives claim they could help more small and medium sized providers to participate in the work. This “will not only save costs, but will also help to catalyse the growth of the next generation of high tech British IT companies,” the party said.

In the interests of transparency, the party is promising to publish online all tender documents and procurement contracts, as well as Gateway reviews.

The Tories also vowed to introduce a “level playing field” for open source software, by implementing open standards across the government.

Among other plans, superfast broadband of 100 Mbps would be available to most of the country, the Conservatives said. This would be funded by private sector investment alone, rather than having the benefit of a 50 pence broadband tax.

A “small” in-house IT development team would also be created, developing low cost, reusable applications. It would also advise on procurement.

Francis Maude, shadow Cabinet Office minister, said the proposals would make the UK “the most technology friendly government in the world.”

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