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New council chair to put collaboration at the heart of central government IT procurement

Interview: techUK’s newly established Central Government Council chair talks about its challenges and aims in ‘a significantly changing procurement landscape’

By Sam

Tom McCann,  of systems integrator Sopra Steria has been appointed Chair of the newly established Central Government Council which brings together leaders from across the tech industry to engage more closely with Central Government

Mr McCann said the landscape for central government IT procurement had shifted significantly away from multi-year large scale projects and that this is evidenced by efforts in government to build its own capability internally as opposed to always going to the market to fulfil requirements.

One of the greatest challenges is sourcing highly skilled people and this naturally flows in to procurement, he said.

“The old world of central government just being about the big six is over, there is a much greater push towards SMEs and there are lots of contractors in use. The Central Government Council represents a membership from across the spectrum of suppliers, large and small. That has been a major shift in how to buy, build and operate,” Mr McCann told CBR.

“There is a shift toward outcome based procurement and there are more barriers and gateways to get through. For each project a thorough business case must be specified. This means there is a lot more work done in the procurement cycle. It reflects the changing risk landscape.”

With the expected publication of the Government Digital Service strategy paper in the next few weeks under the leadership of recently appointed GDS director general Kevin Cunnington, Mr McCann said the major area of interest is how the Government is going to approach doing ‘digital at scale.’

Shared services has been spoken about as solutions within central government for decades and this has evolved into talk of shared platforms.

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This is cyclical and certainly the conversation around platforms has increased especially Government as a platform such as  UK verify and .gov.uk.

“The silos of Government where reinforced in terms of security and data access which were barriers, to joined up platform plays. With GDS everyone expects more platform focus,” said Mr McCann.

The council’s role is to ensure the tech industry is well represented to civil service procurers, gain feedback on what is relevant, to promote digital transformative services and to extend the industry reach into and work with government agencies.

The key to success for the council and for the buyer is a more collaborative approach and gaining an understanding of the required outcome to make it work for everyone.

Tom McCann, Chair, techUK's Central Government Council

Tom McCann, Chair, techUK’s Central Government Council

In areas such as the shift to  agile development move away from waterfall based development has seen the rise of joint teams and is challenging for suppliers and buyers to manage delivery risk.

This is not a talking shop. It is, action and outcome focused. The members had to be selected and the individuals who put themselves forward were motivated to make industry and Government work together, said Mr McCann.

Zoe Cunningham of Softwire and Lee Murray of Triangulate Distribution have been appointed vice chairs.

Naureen Khan Director of Public Services, techUK said: “A huge thank you to all of the techUK members who nominated themselves. We now have the industry leadership in place to support and inform our Central Government programme.”

Mr McCann said: “I’m delighted to Chair the Central Government Council to drive forward the techUK Central Government Programme. As a Council, we will work with techUK members and stakeholders to support central Government departments to deliver transformation of the UK’s public services and connect tech companies large and small with Government.”

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