The three will compete to run Defra’s IT systems in a contract worth £85m per year, after the shortlist was announced today.
The contract is likely to run for ten years, with the possibility of extending it to 17 years.
The preferred bidder will be announced in spring 2004, with the contract due to start around June.
But the decision to outsource the IT systems is not without it opponents. Earlier this year, Labour MP David Taylor, formerly IT manager at Leicester County Council, criticised the rush to outsource the running of IT systems.
‘I regret the lack of an IT strategy, other than to sell off IT and throw Defra to the mercies of the private sector,’ he said at the time.
According to Defra, the number of change programmes it wants to undertake in the coming years mean it is impractical to keep IT services in-house.
‘The day-to-day running of the IT systems was not the issue. We needed to get the skills to underpin a major change programme, and felt this was a better option,’ said Nick Cobban, e-enabling spokesman Defra.
A ‘few hundred’ staff are expected to transfer to the successful bidder under Tupe regulations. Consultation with staff and unions is currently underway.
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