Government row sparked over IT procurement

Vince Cable attacks conservative IT policy for slow emails and standstill systems

Government

Lib Dem minister Vince Cable has reportedly slammed the Tories' IT policies as being "shambolic" leading to a row within the coalition.

IT problems, including slow email systems, in their departments caused MPs Cable and Ed Davey to complain to David Cameron. In their complaints, the two ministers are said to have blamed Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude for failing in his Whitehall IT procurement duties.

The problems were said to have started after the government's decision to migrate its IT systems in May 2014. Slow and intermittent emails supposedly brought the two departments belonging to the business and climate change secretaries to a complete standstill.

In reply, the Cabinet Office has blamed Cable and Davey, stating that the problems lie within their own departments, not in the IT system at large. The two departments, it claimed, "messed up" their contracts and were looking for someone to blame.

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Previously the IT system used by Cable and Davey was supplied by Fujitsu, which did so under a 15-year deal worth 19 million. Under new government regulations, however, that deal was scrapped and replaced by a number of competing suppliers on differing contracts.

The diversification of the IT services used in Whitehall is the brainchild of Maude, aimed at saving money and breaking up the dominance of large IT firms in government systems. Cable is said to have been against the initiative and called for a halt to it.

The new IT deals are reportedly 40 per cent cheaper for the government than using one dominant supplier. "It is rather strange that the secretary of state for business seems to be against small business," a conservative source told the BBC.

Francis Maude's officials have highlighted that the new IT system being used by Cable and Davey's departments are not in fact being supplied by smaller companies.

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