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Tory manifesto: We will freeze new government IT spend

Cameron makes procurement and open source promises

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The Conservative party has reiterated its plans to freeze major new IT spending and make changes in government procurement in its election manifesto.

The manifesto, which follows Labour’s manifesto published yesterday, says that this cut, in addition to “immediate” negotiations to achieve cost reductions from major suppliers, would help the government to achieve £12 billion savings, as indicated by Conservative party advisers Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read.

However, the manifesto contains few surprises int erms of IT. Last week, media reports revealed that Gershon had advised the Tories to target up to £4 billion in efficiency savings from public sector IT.

The Tories have also focussed on government procurement in the manifesto. For example, it has said it will open up government procurement to smaller IT suppliers by publishing online all government tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000 via the Supply2Gov website, which lists contracts typically worth under £100,000.

Currently, according to the EU procurement thresholds, contracts worth from £65,000 are published.

Meanwhile, to increase transparency of government procurement, the Tories promised it would publish ‘in full’ government contracts for goods and services worth over £25,000.

"This government has a dreadful record of managing procurement, with billions of pounds wasted on mismanaged projects," the party said in its manifesto.

"We will tackle wasteful government procurement projects by strengthening the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to get a grip on government ICT projects, and introduce a series of changes to ICT procurement to deliver better value for money."

The Tories also pledged to create a "level playing field" for open source IT in government procurement, and to break up large IT projects into smaller parts to enable SMEs access to contracts.

Last month, the outgoing chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, lambasted the state of public sector IT procurement, insisting serious weaknesses must be fixed if the government is to achieve its much-trumpeted multibillion pound efficiency savings.

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