IT contracts should be no more than 7 years. (Not 18, Fujitsu)

Let's see how that works out

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The British government has once again told departments to break their addiction to big contracts, specifying that deals with suppliers should be no longer than a paltry seven years.

The advice from the Cabinet Office, Exiting Major IT Contracts: Guidance for Departments (PDF), stated that in past years many government organisations entered into large outsourcing contracts, which were often single-vendor arrangements lasting 5 to 10 years.

"Independent analysis has highlighted a number of concerns and issues relating to these contracts, noting that they no longer represent value for money and that their structures constrain the relevant organisations from modernising technical environments," it said.

But those days are now firmly behind government, with brave new plans to shave off a whole three years from that maximum (not including contract extensions, of course).

"For contracts for commodity IT this will be up to 2 years and between 3-7 for service agreements depending on level of supplier investment required, size of contract and market dynamics," it said.

"Disaggregation is complex, in reality it typically takes longer than anticipated (up to 4 years), is resource intensive and needs to be well planned and executed."

Indeed, the government has been banging on about disaggregation since at former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude vowed to take on the supplier oligopoly back in 2011.

Many departments have struggled to break their big supplier addiction. The Home Office 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.

Plans to overhaul £6bn in large IT contracts expiring within the next three years have fallen by the wayside, according to sources.

Just three suppliers account for nearly 70 per cent of that locked-in spend for 2016/17.

However, it's certainly true that some dinosaurs of government IT are losing out in the new world order.

For example, BT and DXC (formerly HPE's enterprise services biz and CSC) saw a double-digit percentage drop in their government biz, according to a recent report by TechMarketView.

Many government departments are at least talking about a shift to the cloud, using the cloudy Big Boys: AWS and Azure. ®


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