The UK government’s procurement arm, OGC, is looking for bids to replace the GSI. This secure network – an important element of the government machine – will provide significant revenues for the winning bidder. It also highlights a general trend: although big new projects have drawn much attention, the government is also spending to replace its current infrastructure.
The UK government intends to replace the Government Secure Internet.
The UK government’s procurement arm, OGC (Office of Government Commerce), has said it wants to replace the current Government Secure Intranet (GSI), the secure network connecting most government agencies and departments. Currently, 140 government organizations connect over GSI.
Although public contracting authorities are not obliged to use GSI, it is the only general-purpose network service suitable for conveying classified and restricted information between a wide range of authorities. Many public sector organizations are likely to develop applications that can only be accessed via GSI.
The OGC is looking for a long-term contract with a single telecoms supplier that allows all public sector organizations to purchase GSI services effectively and efficiently, maximizing savings for the government as a whole. It could also give a much-needed boost to the UK telecoms industry.
It will also have a knock-on effect for hardware manufacturers and eSecurity vendors: faster networking hardware will be needed, with high security requirements – particularly as the project will link existing specialist intranets and extranets, such as the Treasury Intranet, NHSnet and the Criminal Justice Extranet.
The contract also highlights the government’s buying power and telecoms infrastructure requirements. As governments in the UK and across Europe press ahead with plans for eGovernment and ‘joined up’ administration, telcos would do well to focus more on this market.
The UK’s e-envoy has set a 2005 deadline to deliver all government services online – the internal functioning of government, plus eDemocracy, broadband, digital TV and Internet access for schools and libraries. Within three years, this will bring about a complete change in the way government operates.
The government forms a large chunk of most European economies – in the UK, the public sector employs more people than the financial services industry – and it is only now fully waking up to the benefits of information and communications technologies. The GSI deal highlights that government IT contracts need not only benefit big systems integrators but telecoms service providers too.
Related research: Datamonitor, Global Enterprise Networking Expenditure (DMTC0820)
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