OFT Government IT Report — Recommendations

Following, in full, are the recommendations of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report into the Government IT market.  As a statement of the blindingly obvious, combined with recommendations that are either vaguely aspirational or pretty much impossible to implement, it is right up there with the best.

For instance, when it comes to the valid issue of information asymmetry, take this recommendation:

  •  Information can be collected in an efficient way that minimises the burden on suppliers, while ensuring that the public sector has access to comprehensive, objective data that is gathered on a consistent basis

Well, don’t you think if that was an easy thing to do, or if the public sector had an idea at all how to achieve that, it wouldn’t have been done already?  There’s a real lack of practical advice or real insight throughout the report.  I’m sure someone worked very hard on this, but what a waste of time.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Perhaps there is something more profound here than I’ve noticed.

1.53  We set out some high-level recommendations below, which aim to build on and complement the relevant initiatives already under way. Specifically, we recommend that:

Public sector buyers should work with suppliers to address information asymmetries, in particular considering:

  • What information should be collected about bidding, products and services, prices and supplier performance
  •  How this information can be collected in an efficient way that minimises the burden on suppliers, while ensuring that the public sector has access to comprehensive, objective data that is gathered on a consistent basis
  •  Whether there is scope for suppliers to make this information  clearer and more transparent
  •  How this information can be shared within the public sector, without the risk of it being shared with suppliers
  •  How this can be used to facilitate benchmarking, driving better value for money; assess the intensity of competition over time and across sectors; to evaluate the effectiveness of new proposals designed to improve the way the market works

Public sector buyers should continue to seek improvements in the way they procure and manage contracts with suppliers:

  •  The OFT has highlighted a wide range of new initiatives, mainly coming from central government, that are designed to improve procurement processes and increase competition for supply. The public sector should look for ways to share experience of initiatives that work well within certain areas that could be extended to the benefit of the wider public sector.
  •  Public sector buyers should consider how they could cooperate further to improve access to specialist, independent advice and shared support for tendering and managing contracts
  •  Public sector buyers should assess whether they are getting value for money by ensuring they test the market and re-tender contracts with sufficient frequency to achieve competitive prices and service levels
  •  Public sector buyers should consider whether there is greater scope for standardisation of the products and services to allow them to aggregate purchases, to facilitate switching and to reduce costs
  •  In light of the introduction of new security classifications as of 2 April 2014, the public sector should consider whether technical  standards and security accreditation processes, both for suppliers themselves and their staff, can be refined so as not to prevent or deter suppliers from gaining the accreditation required for carrying out public sector work

Suppliers should consider whether they have adequate compliance programmes in place to guard against the potential for anti-competitive behavior

This is an important sector of the economy and the CMA should give careful consideration to prioritising an investigation into any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour


The supply of ICT to the public sector makes a vital contribution to the delivery of our public services and costs the taxpayer just under £14 billion a year. We believe that these recommendations build on and complement ongoing initiatives, and would improve competition in the sector. The additional information gathered by buyers would allow the effectiveness of existing initiatives and recommendations to be assessed, ensuring the delivery of high-quality services at a competitive price.


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