Government IT compared to Mubarak

An industry leader in the IT outsourcing sector has called for wholesale changes to be made to the way that the government procures IT services, while the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted discrepencies in supposed contract savings.

Martin Rice, CEO of Erudine, has advocated a major change to the current system which he believes the Public Administration Select Committee should address in their upcoming report, and not just with a look towards a small change in operating methods.

“I want it to make recommendations that say we need a regime change,” he told

“Using the analogy of what’s happening in North Africa – you don’t go to Gaddafi or Mubarak and say ‘We’d like you to do better’.

“[The response would be] ‘Don’t worry, lessons learnt – we’ve got it all in a database. Trust us.’

“I want the report to say the IT industry and supply and customer sides have lost trust. We need to move forward in a totally different way – we need regime change.”

Rice has been very vocal recently in his vehement denouncing of the current system, telling a recent PASC hearing that the current “cartel” of outsourcing firm’s should be broken up, and demanding an apology from the industry.

A recent report from the Institute for Government also advocated a shake-up of the current system with a mixture of the agile approach favoured by Rice and the ‘platform’ method that offers practicality for large governmental organisations.

Though Rice admits that attitudes are shifting towards a change, it is still not effecting an adequate change on the amount spent on IT services by the government, amounting to approximately £16 billion per year.

“If the people now charged with spending that money are saying ‘We’ve learnt our lessons; we’re bringing in Agile [methodologies]; we’re moving forward,’ where are the savings? What’s the IT budget for next year, £10 billion?

“Why is the £16 billion still £16 billion – why is it not massively less?”

The calls for more to be on reducing this outlay comes as the National Audit Office questions how much transparency there actually is in figures presented by the government, with a supposed reduction of £1 billion being called into question.

According to a report from the NAO, the government has failed to incorporate the cost of actually scrapping projects into the total amount saved.

Furthermore it is thought that money which is saved may just be moved into other projects.

The report is part of an investigation into the Cabinet Office’ Efficiency and Reform Group which is tasked with managing public sector costs