E-envoy Andrew Pinder told a meeting of parliament’s main financial watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, that too few of the computer giants wanted to tender for Whitehall contracts.
Backed by Hugh Barrett, the executive director for supplier relations and e-commerce at the Office of Government Commerce, Pinder said too many companies believed that contracts were awarded purely on the basis of lowest cost.
In addition, the news that EDS and Accenture have put in a joint bid for the Inland Revenue/National Insurance computer systems, which they both already run separately and respectively, is also believed to have scared off rivals.
Pinder agreed with Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel that the government was ‘getting too dependent on too few IT suppliers’.
But he said the government was working to persuade possible suppliers that the wider question of ‘value for money’ rather than low price was the main consideration.
Furthermore, the government is also trying to reduce the protracted length of time it takes to award contracts, seen as a major disincentive to bidding.
Pinder said some companies were also wary of the damage to their reputation from a high-profile government contract going wrong and the publicity that came with it.