GovIT rip-offs - surely time for a new approach

Yesterday a reporter on a national newspaper emailed to ask what I thought of the report "Recipe for rip-offs - time for a new approach" by the Public Administration Select Committee. This was my emailed reply:"It’s a good report....

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Yesterday a reporter on a national newspaper emailed to ask what I thought of the report  "Recipe for rip-offs - time for a new approach"  by the Public Administration Select Committee. This was my emailed reply:

"It’s a good report. If there is a cartel  - which may be too strong a word - it’s because buyers want to deal with a small number of large suppliers rather than lots of SMEs that may go bust at any time.

"Big suppliers give the bonds of financial assurance, and can quote costs and savings over 10 years. Many SMEs probably haven’t been in business that long. Why should civil servants take risks with SMEs when nobody was ever fired for buying IBM, HP, BT, CSC and so forth? 

"Civil servants say they’d rather deal with one supplier than many SMEs which would only increase their workload. The Cabinet Office, in representing No 10, is trying to change the culture to make civil servants happy about taking on SMEs but it’s not going to happen quickly, and there are signs of resistance in departments.

"Civil servants need rewards for taking sensible risks with SMEs. Otherwise a big change may not happen." Perhaps I should have added that keeping existing comfortable and costly arrangements with large IT  suppliers is the biggest risk of all. 

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