techUK, the representative body for UK technology companies, has responded to a recent government blog explaining changes to the way the government with procure IT and technology.
Last month, deputy director and chief of staff in the Office of the CTO Alex Holmes announced what techUK is calling a “significant change in policy without any opportunity for industry consultation.”
In the offending blog posting, Holmes announced that the Tower Model adopted by many government Departments in recent years in a bid to make better use of technology will no longer be acceptable.
According to the chief of staff, a fear of change in the ways things are done and a need to meet Whitehall’s new multi-sourcing IT provisions led to the “hybrid model unique to government.”
“[The Tower Model] combines outsourcing with multi-sourcing but loses the benefits of either. The model has arisen because organisations have used a procurement-led solution in response to legacy outsourcing contracts ending,” Holmes claimed.
“Rather than changing their approach and emphasis, they have ended up outsourcing their IT again, but in pieces. It was still about us, not about the needs of our users.
“Organisations have adopted [this model], believing they are following government policy and using best practice, but they are doing neither.
“I am now writing this post to be clear that the Tower Model is not condoned and not in line with government policy. Government should use the best of what is already out there – not develop its own model,” he added.
However, techUK is “surprised” and “concerned” by the announcement and claims many of its members have been alarmed by it.
Naureen Khan, the organisation’s associate director for central government and education, claims the disaggregation model has been advocated by numerous public sector bodies in the past, including both Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service (GDS) representatives.
“Unclear procurement policies are likely to dissuade future investment in the public sector from companies of all sizes,” Khan claimed.
“Although tech can be disruptive, an element of stability in the engagement between industry and government is critical to future performance of a sector that is a significant engine of growth, estimated to contribute around £100bn to the UK economy.
“techUK members alone employ more than 500,000 people – about half of all tech sector jobs,” she added.
Khan is now urging government to engage with the whole of the industry to help shape future transition and strategy and agree the best way to define and procure the solutions required.