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Gartner block highlights 'increasing momentum' of government's reform agenda

Derek du Preez | July 22, 2013
Analyst urges IT providers to work with rather than against government.

The government's block on costly Gartner subscriptions should be a warning to traditional IT service providers that the Cabinet Office's reform agenda is picking up pace and shows no sign of letting up, according to analyst house TechMarketView.

Following Computerworld UK's revelation earlier this week that senior technology chiefs within Whitehall have put a stop to 54 Gartner subscriptions, costing £45,000 each, analyst Georgina O'Toole claims that ICT suppliers should see this as a signal to not work against government IT and procurement reforms.

She said: "While there is clearly a question mark over whether UK government is getting value for money from these subscriptions, the action also emphasises the Cabinet Office's will to centralise the procurement of products and services where there is potential for the resource to be shared.

"And this goes for ICT products and services too, not just research services. And secondly it gives the impression that the Cabinet Office views Gartner's research and advice as recommending the use of traditional ICT suppliers (the so-called oligopoly) rather than steering departments and agencies to consider a broader range of providers including SMEs and those supporting digital transformation."

The Cabinet Office, and more specifically the Government Digital Service, have been introducing a number of reforms in recent months to push out the traditional suppliers of technology to Whitehall, due to the perception that relationships with these companies has resulted in costly outsourcing agreements that are outdated and have had limited success.

This has largely come in the form of the Digital by Default agenda, which mandates that central departments overhaul legacy IT systems and transform public services into agile digital products for the public. It expects that this could save taxpayers £1.7 billion a year after 2015.

However, there have also been a number of changes to procurement - including the renegotiation of licensing agreements with the likes of Microsoft, SAP and Oracle, as well as the commitment to reduce the number of frameworks across government departments.

This has been complimented by the introduction of the G-Cloud and the Digital Services Framework, both of which have a commitment to introducing SME suppliers to government that can help to procure cheap and agile digital products.

O'Toole added: "It is our view that the successful suppliers to Government will be those that work with rather than against the government reforms being spearheaded by the Cabinet Office.

"And that goes for the suppliers of all types of product or service. Though some would like to think otherwise, there is no letup; the Cabinet Office's pursuit of its reform agenda is picking up momentum and its influence at departmental level is increasing."


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