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The Home Office has set out plans to split its existing IT estate into smaller, shorter contracts with a view to attracting bids from SMEs.

The Home Office has set out plans to split its existing IT estate into smaller, shorter contracts with a view to attracting bids from SMEs.

The department is preparing to replace two existing mega-deals with Fujitsu and Atos, which cover the majority of its IT estate and are both due to expire in 2016.

In a webinar yesterday, Home Office head of technology strategy Simon Bond said that the technology transformation project, dubbed ‘ReSET4’, “will absolutely transform the entire landscape of IT at the Home Office.”

He added: “We aim to move away from long-term monolithic contracts and replace those with short-term, agile, flexible and disaggregated services.”

Wherever possible the Home Office plans to buy services through G-Cloud, according to chief technology officer (CTO) Denise McDonagh, who was previously director of the G-Cloud programme. The department also plans to buy the majority of its networking needs from the Public Services Network (PSN) framework.

The Home Office will buy from government procurement frameworks wherever possible and will only look to procure through a full OJEU [Official Journal of the European Union’ if absolutely necessary, according to McDonagh.

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The Home Office will break up its IT requirements into four main areas: end user computing, networks, hosting and systems and service integration, Bond explained.

The department plans to largely bring the systems and service integration function in-house with some external support, but the remaining three sectors where it needs to buy services will be disaggregated into a number of smaller, individual contracts.

Bond said: “In the old model we might have outsourced end user computing as one single service contract. In the new model, we’ll look to disaggregate that into three, four, five, potentially more, different blocks of services, which we’ll procure individually.”

As an illustration of this, he explained that at the moment the Home Office is considering splitting its end user computing needs into six contracts. These are: productivity suite, a desktop IT managed service, identity authorisation management, thin operating systems, managed mobile, and managed print services.

Bond emphasised that the department is particularly keen to attract bids from SMEs, as part of wider government efforts to buy more services from smaller suppliers.

SME crown representative Stephen Allott said that SMEs can help departments to achieve substantial savings and gain access to innovative services that are more closely aligned to their needs.

He said: “As an SME supplier, you have many advantages. My research and case studies have shown me that SMEs can offer better value, can be more flexible, can be more tailored to the government buyer’s need, and you can provide direct access to senior people which government buyers really enjoy.”

Speaking to ComputerworldUK recently, Allott said that the government is already saving significant amounts of money by procuring with SMEs.

He said: "Many recent contracts, won by SMEs, have meant substantial savings for the tax-payer, sometimes as much as 75 percent."

During the webinar yesterday Bond said: “In splitting this up, this means a lot for the SME community. Previously we’ve tended to go for large scale contracts where the financial barriers to entry were very high, meaning SMEs were unable or unlikely to bid.”

McDonagh added: “I hope people recognise that in the way that we’re disaggregating and looking to buy commodity IT, this does present a huge opportunity for the SME market which hasn’t been there before in government IT.”