Despite all the headlines generated by the Community Charge, it will be the current move to introduce Compulsory Competitive Tendering that has the more far reaching effect on local authority computing policy – at least according to Iain Wright, product manager, local government at ROCC Computers Ltd, Crawley, West Sussex. Although the traditional suppliers of […]
Despite all the headlines generated by the Community Charge, it will be the current move to introduce Compulsory Competitive Tendering that has the more far reaching effect on local authority computing policy – at least according to Iain Wright, product manager, local government at ROCC Computers Ltd, Crawley, West Sussex. Although the traditional suppliers of mainframe based systems to local government such as ICL are reportedly up to their eyes with community charge, which is said to impose an administration overhead four times that of the old rating system, ROCC has been concentrating on a set of Unix-based services for local authorities direct labour and service organisations covering five areas: grounds maintenance, property maintenance, fleet management, highways maintenance and stock control and purchasing. The move comes as a direct response to the recent Compulsory Competitive Tendering legislation, which will result in local authorities awarding their service contracts on the open market. This, says Wright, means that the winning organisations will need to be competitive, well managed and well organised implying that those local authorities who wish to keep service operations in-house will have to make significant changes to compete with outside bidders. The first round of tendering for the 500-plus county, metropolitan, London and district authorities affected began in May, and Wright predicts that most in-house departments will be successful in keeping their service contracts. However, the second round of tendering after five years will see private organisations moving in, both on a local and national level, and a number of management buy-out of in house departments tendering for the work – considerably extending the market for ROCC’s packages. Decentralised approach Wright argues that the predominantly mainframe-based systems used by local government and geared towards older legislation will not cope with the new changes, and that a more efficient, de centralised approach is needed. ROCC’s solution is based on its own manufacture Motorola 680X0-based Unix systems supporting up to 64 users. The software packages, written in Unify Corp’s Accell language and based around the Unify SQL relational database, are all written to SSADM design requirements, and have been developed in conjunction with various local authority computer departments, such as Hampshire County Council for the fleet management system. ROCC also provides support and maintenance services to complete the package. The software can be used either stand-alone, or as part of an integrated system. ROCC, which already has over 100 local authority customers, kicked off its initiative off by announcing four deals for the new systems worth around UKP400,000 in total. These include the Council of the City of Stoke on Trent and London Borough of Lambeth for highways maintenance; Oxford City Council for fleet management, and Newport Borough Council, which will run property maintenance, highways maintenance, ground maintenance, refuse collection and street cleaning and stores on its ROCC 2848 Unix based system. Wright identified ICL, Bull and McDonnell Douglas as its main competitors for local authority busines, but claims that ROCC is the first ready to address this particular sector of the computer-hungry local council market.