The Home Office has extended its multi-million pound IT contract with Fujitsu until April 2018.
The Home Office has extended its IT contract for around a year – Photo credit: Home Office
The Sirius contract, which was first signed in 2000, has been extended once already – in October 2009 – and was due to expire in the first quarter of 2017.
The Home Office has said that the new extension is to help it ensure a smoot transition from long-term, high-value IT contracts with one supplier to multiple, smaller contracts.
The contract is for the supply of hardware and technical support to around 24,000 members, or 70%, of the Home Office staff. It was worth around £640m the last time it was extended and is one of two major IT contracts the Home Office has – the other being with Atos.
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The Home Office has said it is committed to changing the culture of awarding large IT contracts to single suppliers – a practice that the Government Digital Service tried to crack down on in 2010 by introducing spend controls to prevent departments over-spending on IT and digital projects.
However, the government is approving an increasing number of large IT contracts with big suppliers – The Register recently reported that there has been a steady rise in the number of departments winning exemptions for their IT spending since former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude left government last year.
Recent comment from the new GDS boss Kevin Cunnington have added weight to these suggestions, as he indicated that spend controls would be formally relaxed, saying that there shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach to spend controls and that the limit of £100,000 for digital projects was now “too low”.
Indeed, the Home Office is one of three departments that is piloting a new approach to spend controls, which Cunnington hopes will help decide on what the right level of control is.
The suggestion that the spend controls are being changed has been met with criticism on social media, with Simon Wardley, a researcher who contributor to Liam Maxwell’s 2010 report on government IT spending Better for Less, describing it as a “daft idea” and that he was “absolutely furious” about it.
Meanwhile, former boss Stephen Foreshew-Cain said on Twitter that if the reports of the Home Office’s extension of its Fujistu contract was true, “the relaxing of the IT spend controls is working out well. For Fujitsu. And Oracle. etc…”.