The government has appointed seven ‘crown representatives’ to manage a list of suppliers consisting mainly of IT firms.
The news comes as the government said it had saved over £800 million in the last financial year by renegotiating financial contracts with over 50 suppliers, including for IT and other services.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the appointment of the representatives would help the government act as a “single customer” across departments, and tackle the spiralling costs and delays on a number of large programmes.
The supplier representatives will also “put an end to the days when departments were able to sign up – without any central control or coordination - to a series of different contracts with the same supplier”, the Cabinet Office said.
The Crown Representatives will also be responsible for developing the role of ‘emerging players’ in the market, a reference to smaller suppliers.
They will maintain oversight of significant new contract awards to key suppliers, using their knowledge of a supplier’s performance across its portfolio of contracts with central government. They will also aim to deliver the efficiency savings already agreed in Memoranda of Understanding with suppliers, provide advice on existing contracts, develop an understanding of the ‘pipeline’ of future government business.
Other key functions include developing sourcing strategies, and tackling contractual disputes.
Maude said one of the ways to “get the best deal” was to “ensure we’re really using the scale of government to push down prices”. He added: “That is why any dealings with our big suppliers have to be coordinated and our approach has to be strategic – the new Crown Representatives will make sure this happens.”
Members of the team of Crown Representatives include Martin Bellamy, change director at the National Offender Management Service, as well as procurement directors at the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, and the Ministry of Defence, alongside experts from the private sector.
The key IT suppliers to be managed by the representatives are: Accenture, Atos Origin, BT, Cable & Wireless, Capgemini, Capita, Cisco, CSC, Detica, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Logica, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Serco, Steria, Vodafone, Vertex and Xerox.
IT suppliers' association Intellect said it hoped the move would mark the start of a "new phase" in the relationship between government and the IT industry.
Sureyya Cansoy, director of the organisation's public sector programme, said: “We believe that industry needs to be seen as a strategic partner who can help government deliver their agenda to transform public services." Intellect is already working with the Crown Representative for small suppliers.