Governement Publish New ICT Plans

The deal, published on Thursday, includes several elements of the Conservative IT manifesto, with pledges on widening access to procurement and on open-source software.

"We will take steps to open up government procurement and reduce costs; and we will publish government ICT contracts online," the document says, adding: "We will create a level playing field for open-source software and will enable large ICT projects to be split into smaller components."

It also includes the Conservatives' plans to require full disclosure online of "all central government spending and contracts over £25,000". There will be a right to data, so all government held datasets can be requested then regularly published.

Councils will be required to publish all items of spending above £500, and "to publish contracts and tender documents in full", as well as meeting minutes, local service and performance data.

"We will ensure that all data published by public bodies is published in an open and standardised format, so that it can be used easily and with minimal cost by third parties," it adds.

Details of every UK project receiving more than £25,000 of EU funding will also be published.

The agreement also includes a commitment to "stop plans to force the regionalisation of the fire service", which may affect or end the FireControl programme of regional fire control centres.

It also confirms detailed plans on civil liberties, although the government will retain the e-Borders system, reintroducing exit controls.

Stephen Roberts, head of market intelligence at Kable, commented: "The Conservative IT strategy was well publicised and apparently it has survived the transition from opposition to coalition government unscathed.

"While much in the document is laudable, it represents less of a step change than one might think. A presumption in favour of open source, all else being equal, was Cabinet Office policy under the previous regime. The battle to win the hearts and minds of chief information officers is still one for the open source industry to fight.

"The move towards smaller components within IT projects follows the current direction of travel within Whitehall IT: the large infrastructure roll out challenges are on their way to being solved, and the applications investment which follows it comes in smaller chunks. Tellingly, this doesn't suggest that existing projects will be split up. The 'disaggregation' of current contracts, much feared by some ICT vendors, is a threat which may recede."

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