UK's food, farms and greens dept gives in to IBM, Capgemini addiction

Will extend IT contracts a bit, but winnow 25-supplier plan

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is the latest UK government body to beg for "just one more hit" with its system integrators, prolonging its IBM and Capgemini contracts by one year.

Defra extended its IBM deal to July 2019, which was originally signed in 2004, and its Capgemini contract to August 2018, signed in 2009 – according to a Freedom of Information response sent to The Register.

The current annual value of both those contracts is £105m and £55m, respectively.

Defra's UnITy programme is intended to:

  • Replace the ICT services currently provided to Defra
  • Increase Defra's in-house ICT management capabilities
  • Involve a wider range of suppliers

"We anticipate having no more than 10 strategic suppliers," it said – although previously the plan was to have 25 suppliers in place by 2018.

The department said extension of those contracts was intended "to ensure a smooth transition and exit, with a reduction in the current running costs."

Confusingly, Defra said it does expect the procurement phase of the UnITy programme to be complete by June 2018, "although the transition to the new supply chain will be determined based upon the bid responses and selection of the most economically advantageous tender".

The department is not alone in extending its SI addiction. The Home Office last year extended its mega Fujitsu contract to 2018, meaning that when the contract ends it will have been running for the best part of two decades.

Auntie has also found it difficult to extricate itself from Atos, having recently awarded its Enterprise ICT and Hosting Services contract worth up to £560m over eight years to its incumbent. ®

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