Unfortunately, I knew of no-one else who could do the work at such short
notice, for a ‘reasonable’ price, apart from my local, all-round,
‘tried-and-trusted’ one-man-band builder.
But as soon as the drill bit pierced through the ceiling and his brush hit my
front wall it suddenly struck me that Whitehall has the same dilemna as many
home owners when it comes to choosing firms for their public sector IT
programmes. There is as much a shortage of reputable IT services firms as there
are dodgy plumbers.
The oligopoly includes EDS, which has recently settled with the former Inland
Revenue over the botched tax credits system, and continues to control mega buck
deals at the DWP and the CSA; Capita, which dominates multiple government
programmes; and Capgemini, which took over from EDS to run the Revenue’s Aspire
The problem is twofold and should be addressed further by both suppliers and
public sector organisations. On the one hand there is little or no choice for
Whitehall when it comes to pitching projects and picking a winner. And on the
other, most, if not all, of the large firms have alarmingly had some aspect of
their track record tarnished when a project has either backfired, missed
deadline or failed completely.
Constantly returning to companies that have made past ‘public eye’ mistakes
is starting to wear thin and continues to shine a bad light on the industry.
However, there’s some good news in that now the government has pledged to
eradicate failure, and departments are beginning to recognise the value of
efficiency and service level agreements (SLAs).
If only the door was opened to the smaller to medium end of the consultancy
world then perhaps the same situation wouldn’t keep happening and the same
builder wouldn’t keep patching up my pipework for a few extra quid.
James Bennett is editor of Management Consultancy
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