DWP starts IT overhaul as it commits to 25% SMB spend

The Boardroom

by Joe Curtis| 09 June 2014

Competition for contracts is key at big spending government department.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has committed to increasing its spend with SMBs to 25% of expenditure as it outlined its revised IT transformation programme.

The Government department wants to separate its IT system into 'towers' that comprise its constituent parts to encourage more competition for services.

It hopes this strategy will bring the department in line with the Government's 'digital first' agenda as well as boost SMB expenditure up from its current 15%.

The DWP's first focus will be on its security tower, allocating £2.225m this month to hire smaller companies predominantly via the G-Cloud framework.

Its Revised SME Action Plan - May 2014 read: "The DWP Commercial Strategy for the new Security Contracts is to deliver value for money, an innovative agile approach, with trusted providers to the public sector ... and will rely on suppliers who will deliver superior security services with a wealth of business management consultancy and efficiency skills."

It will then break up its networks contracts into PSN Connectivity, with a £65m budget, in September, followed by PSN telephony with a £51m spend in December 2015, before allocating £37m for a PSN Contact Centre in March 2015.

These tower rollouts will all be overseen by a SIAM - a service integration and management integrator.

The department has not published a deadline by which to achieve the 25% spend on SMBs, but has released targets that would see it hit 21% of total expenditure spent on SMBs by 2016/17.

The news comes after the DWP completed an internal audit of IT strategy back in January, and the transformation programme is expected to bring the department up to date with the Government's 'digital first' strategy by alleviating its reliance on legacy systems.

Universal Credit, the DWP's revamp of the welfare system to consolidate six benefits into one, was given its own special 'reset' category in last month's annual report into Government projects.

"The priority for us is we are rolling it out slowly and securely," a spokeswoman said at the time.

A body representing local council CIOs hit back last week at figures revealing 26 county councils spent less than 1% of their IT budgets via G-Cloud.

Socitm's head of policy, Martin Ferguson, told CBR: "From a local government point of view, a lot of services on there are not realistic to help local government with what services it delivers."

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