Supplementary written evidence submitted
by Cabinet Office|
1) FROM ORAL EVIDENCE SESSION ON 30 MARCH
Q25. How many data centres does government
currently own itself?
Q26. How many data centres are actually owned
by System Integrators and service providers to Government?
A survey commissioned by CIO Council during June
2010 identified 220 Data Centres across Central Government.
Outside of Central Government, the Police have at
least 88 Data Centres, while the estimate for Local Government
and the wider public sector is in excess of 600 Data Centres.
Information is not currently held which distinguishes
ownership for these Data Centres. Confirmation of ownership is
planned for early stages of the Data Centre consolidation initiative.
Q586. Chair: at the end of a long interchange,
a note is effectively requested of Ian Watmore asking how many
people there are in the Open Source team at the Cabinet Office/ERG
and whether they come from the Open Source community
Q23. Please confirm the number of people from
the Open Source community working within the CO/ERG team. Also,
who is on the Open Source Advisory Panel and what is their background
in open source?
The Cabinet Office has a Grade 6 full-time resource
dedicated to Open Source matters. Though the post-holder does
not come from the open source community, they have brought a range
of skills to the post, which has helped to foster strong links
to the community. Accountability for the work delivered by the
Grade 6 rests with the Government Chief Information Officer via
the Director of ICT Strategy and Policy.
Given the importance of Open Source in the ICT Strategy,
the CIO Delivery Board is in the process of allocating the responsibility
of the delivery of open source actions to a delivery board lead
from a large delivery department. This will allow Government to
leverage the appropriate number of resources and knowledge base
of the particular department to ensure that the Open Source actions
can be further developed and delivered.
The Cabinet Office has fostered strong working relationships
with the open source community. The main portal for engaging the
open source community is the UK Public Sector Group. This was
originally set up by Open Forum Europe (OFE)
and is now co-chaired by the Cabinet Office.
The UK Public Sector Group (PSG) consists of over
37 individuals representing different organisations with interests
in all aspects of open source technology. The Public Sector Group
includes representation from the larger open source supplier community
including Redhat, Alfresco, and Canonical. There is strong SME
representation in the group through organisations such as Sirius
and OPUSvL. Academic organisations such as London School of Economics
are also represented in the group, as are community groups like
the Free Software Foundation Europe. Bi-monthly PSG meetings provide
a forum for discussion and feedback and the opportunity for the
open source community to identify obstacles to the adoption of
open source solutions in government.
Who is on the Open Source Advisory Panel and what
is their background in open source?
The Open Source Advisory Panel has been established
by the UK Public Sector Group (PSG). The panel is currently resourced
by five independent expert practitioners, nominated by Open Forum
Europe, and approved by PSG. The expert practitioners have all
either implemented or procured open source solutions or have detailed
expertise in a specific area (eg legal), and who in turn are able
to provide access to community specialist expertise, supplier/government
contacts networks, and open source users from across Europe.
The Open Source Advisory Panel currently consists
Tod Cury: A Senior Government
Advisor to OFE, and is an Independent Open Source Consultant providing
independent business and IT consulting to open source industry
vendors, government and commercial organisations. He was previously
the Head of Red Hat's UK Public Sector business and has been directly
involved in many of the leading OSS implementations in the UK
and has advised OGC on their implementation guide for OSS.
Alan Bell: The CTO of
OFE and has co-authored technical guidelines on the use of Open
Source Software in industry. He is Director of The Open Learning
Centre which provides consultancy services to small and medium
enterprises seeking to benefit from Free and Open Source Software
internally, as well strategic advice to businesses wanting to
manage their contributions to open projects.
Chris Puttick: Spent the
last five years as CIO of Oxford Archaeology and recently moved
to providing consultancy CIO services. Specific technical expertise
in collaboration solutions, networking, the Internet, remote/flexible
working and virtualisation/cloud technologies. Management expertise
in strategy, implementing open and flexible infrastructures and
desktop, project management and business development. Experience
in the public, private and third sectors. History of successful
Implementation of IS solutions with open source technologies since
2002, including web-based collaboration and document management,
VOIP telephony, virtualisation and desktop applications.
Bob Blatchford: He is
COO of OFE and included in his responsibilities are OFE's own
IT and web based solutions, as well as leading OFE's European
programmes on Open Procurement within Government. He has a wealth
of practical experience of Open Source and Open Standards based
procurement issues and best practice, as well as access to a European
network of suppliers, user communities and legal expertise.
Andrew Katz: Partner in
legal firm Moorcrofts LLP. Moorcrofts has a niche specialism in
advising clients on all aspects of open source software. As a
former software engineer (and qualified NeXT developer), Andrew
Katz has himself released software under open source licences.
Andrew Katz is recognised as a leader in the field of open source
licensing in the UK. He was involved in the drafting of the UK
Creative Commons Licence, and has contributed to the GPL Version
3 project. He is also a founder editor and contributor to the
International Free and Open Source Software Law Review.
Q540. Chair: Don't we actually have to press
for deregulation of the contracting process and a change to the
Since this Government came to office, it has taken
steps to radically simplify and streamline public procurement.
In particular, it has conducted a "LEAN Review" to identify
and then eliminate wasteful practices which form part of the procurement
processes that are lengthy and burdensome without changing EU
rules. Resultant changes are now in the process of being implemented.
In addition the Government is also actively participating
in the European Commission's current review of the Procurement
Directives. The Government has engaged with Commission Officials
since the outset to press the case for radical simplification.
Government officials are also working with counterparts in other
member states to harness shared interests in simplification.
The Commission published a Green Paper on 15 January
on the "Modernisation of EU Public Procurement Policy"
and an explanatory memorandum was submitted to Parliament on 7
March 2011. A formal response from the Government will shortly
be sent to the Commission.
These outcomes should free up public procurement
markets and enable a light touch, modern regulatory framework.
We will continue to work with both public and private sectors
to finalise the Government's response.
2) SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS POST-COMMITTEE
DATA / BASE
Q1. Do you have figures for the average price
per desktop in government? If so, what is that figure and what
is being done to reduce it?
There is currently no agreed common definition for
a desktop nor method for attributing cost against a definition.
We are committed to putting in place a cross-departmental
asset register which will incorporate the components of a desktop
computing service so that we can have a single definition. Until
that is in place, baseline information required in updates to
all departments' Business Plans will include the cost of desktop
per FTE and the contemporary definition used by the department
to calculate that cost.
Reducing desktop costs within the context of creating
a common ICT infrastructure is an explicit aim of the Government
ICT Strategy. Like much else in ICT, desktop computing solutions
have previously been individually crafted for departments, largely
using output specifications by System Integrators. A common ICT
infrastructure based on agreed, open standards to avoid vendor
lock-in and to open up procurement directly from SMEs together
with the use of cloud computing to deliver a utility service has
as much to offer in reducing desktop costs as it does to reducing
ICT costs as a whole.
Q2. Is OGC still operating the Common Assessment
Framework (CAF), measuring the performance of major ICT suppliers
to the Government on a twice yearly basis?
2.2 If not, why is CAF is being discontinued?
2.2 If so, please supply the most detailed
recent tables and evidence from CAF comparing major ICT suppliers'
The OGC (now part of ERG) took a decision to suspend
the CAF process whilst the role and work of the Crown Commercial
Portfolio team was considered as a whole.
The establishment of a network of Crown Representatives
in April 2011 and the supporting analysis that will be developed
in ERG is expected to provide better insights into supplier performance
than was the case with CAF. Any successor to CAF will have to
impose minimal burdens on suppliers and departments, while adding
value over and above that secured via other routes.
As a result, a new process for the measurement of
supplier performance is currently under review. We are working
on a model which will be lighter touch than CAF and which will
cover a wider range of major suppliers i.e. beyond purely ICT
suppliers. Once the review of the proposed plans and approach
are completed, we will be issuing guidance to Departments in the
next six to nine months.
Q3. To what extent will existing contracts
limit/delay the ability of the Government to implement these reforms?
3.1 What is the average length of a Government
IT contract? Which contract that the Government has currently
entered into has the latest end date?
3.2 To what extent did the contract renegotiation
conducted following the establishment of the Coalition Government
allow you to mitigate this risk? Please give examples
3. Existing ICT contracts are not a barrier to
implementation of the reformson the contrary they have
informed our work and helped us leverage several hundred million
pounds in savings through the renegotiation programme. Discussed
as part of the contract renegotiation programme they informed
the proposals agreed in the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) signed
between suppliers and the Crown. The MoUs contain a range of savings
opportunities for central government to be delivered in 2010-11
and beyond. Cabinet Office has been working with departments to
deliver these savings since the first MoU was signed in September
A key learning point from the renegotiation process
was that the government can leverage a better deal from its suppliers
by acting as one corporate "crown" customer rather than
by individual departments engaging separately with the same suppliers.
In view of this, a new model for managing government's relationship
with its key suppliers is being implemented, and a number of Crown
Representatives (CRs) have been appointed to undertake this role.
The CRs will work with departments to ensure knowledge about performance
on existing contracts is shared and taken into account in contract
awards, and that the government is able to manage its existing
supply base effectively.
The CRs will also work with departments to develop
a pipeline view of government's spend over the next four years
(taking account of both existing and new procurements). This will
be used to develop our strategy for managing ICT spend more effectively
and to formulate plans for more effective engagement with the
market working to achieve better value for government in the goods
and services it purchases.
3.1 We do not hold contract information for all
ICT contracts across central Government. Suppliers submitted details
of their revenues on central Government business with some contract
data attached. From the data we do hold (covering 17 of government's
top ICT suppliers), it appears that the average duration of contracts
is between two to five years. Aspire, through Capgemini, is the
largest ICT related contract with the longest duration (13 years
from 01/07/2004 to 30/06/2017). However, we would like to caveat
that this is not exhaustive as the purpose of the data collection
was to ascertain supplier revenue levels in HMG, not detailed
3.2 Existing ICT contracts do not pose a risk
to delivery as such, but their detail will need to be factored
into future plans for managing ICT spend, and the Crown Representativessupported
by the Chief Information Officers who work with them, will be
looking to do this as part of their new role. We will take existing
commitments into account in developing strategies for engaging
with current ICT suppliers and in working to develop new entrants
to the public market.
Q4. The original commitment was to openly
publish OGC Gateway Reviews by the end of 2010. Why has this been
The Government is committed to publishing assurance
data on government funded major projects, including Gateway Review
data, as set out in the Structural Reform Plan. Work is in train
for the publication, by December 2011, of an annual report on
government's major projects, and we will require departments to
publish project assurance data on a regular basis. Further details
will be available over the next couple of months.
The Government has already offered unprecedented
public access to data and reports through the Management Information
(MI) agenda. Our proposals on Major Projects will open up to public
scrutiny information on areas of expenditure previously not available
to the public.
Q5. Will the new procurement systems and procedures
address the issue of the over-specification of requirements which
has been raised by a number of witnesses?
This is our plan which we are addressing in a number
of ways, for example the streamlined LEAN sourcing processes we
are developing in support of all procurement procedures, will
also address the specification of requirements part of the process,
with the aim to ensure these are relevant to what's being sourced,
with more focus on the "outcome required" from the contract
rather than focusing too much on the "detailed technical
In addition, plans are now underway to improve the
skills of Government Procurement resources through targeted training
courses, which will address the need to challenge over specification.
Q6. Will large SIs still sometimes have exclusivity,
for big projects? If not, how will the cost of any large capital
investments which need to be made by the private sector be recouped?
We are committed to opening up Government contracts
to a wider range of suppliers in addition to the existing large
SIs. We are doing this by breaking down large scale projects into
more manageable chunks with a presumed upper limit of £100
Whilst we cannot prejudge the outcome of future procurements,
we can and will be more open and are already encouraging new potential
suppliers including SMEs and new suppliers to the UK to bid for
It's up to successful suppliers to plan for how they
account for any capital investments and not Governments role to
do so. This is accounted for within bid prices from suppliers
which then form the basis of the contract, including where applicable
and agreed through negotiation, any cost of finance.
Q7. Will the "upper limit" of £100
million take into account the issue of "scope creep"
or will there be ways to get round the upper limit by simply incrementally
adding more and more elements on to the project once it has started?
Our plans are that change within existing and new
major contracts must be more transparent and where appropriate
channelled through and approved by the Crown Representatives already
in place to ensure that any change to initial scope, resulting
in an increase in original contract value is transparent, managed
and approved before commitment is made.
Q8. Is it the case, as reported, that the
Cabinet Office cannot become involved with contractual and procurement
discussions without being invited to by Departments?
If so, how will the new policy commitments on procurement be implemented?
If it is not true, what mechanisms exist to compel Departments
to comply with the new policies on procurement?
Cabinet Office is already providing leadership on
the management of strategic suppliers and the major contracts
Government has with these suppliers through the recently formed
Crown Representatives, and on centralising the procurement and
ongoing category management of common goods and services. This
work delivered in partnership with Departments has yielded significant
results in the region of £3 billion to date and will do so
over the CSR.
Performance and compliance is being managed more
consistently and visibly than in the past in line with the Governments
transparency commitments, with reports produced and presented
to the Minister for the Cabinet Office (MCO) and Chief Secretary
to the Treasury (CST) on a regular basis.
New policies and procedures to support these initiatives
have been communicated to Departments through delegated authority
from HMT and Cabinet Office.
Q9. Does the policy of open standards and
open source mean that OGC procurement notices will stop specifying
particular proprietary products and will seek to procure, for
example, "word processing software" rather than "Microsoft
Word"? If so, when will the policy be implemented by OGC
This is our plan, as "Government Procurement"
works in partnership with "Government ICT" in developing
and implementing our open source and open standards actions as
contained within the recently published ICT Strategy. Exact timing
on when these changes will be implemented within OGC procurement
notices will be communicated during the first quarter of 2011-12.
Q10. Does the MPA include responsibility for
reviewing existing major projects and major suppliers, or solely
The mandate from the Prime Minister gives the MPA
vital new powers, such as:
authority to require each new project or programme to complete
a Starting Gate Review;
Assurance and Approval Plans for each Major Project or Programme,
which will be validated by both the MPA and HMT and will be tied
in to funding approval; to escalate issues of concern to ministers
and Accounting Officers; and
of project information consistent with the Coalition's Transparency
A major change, resulting from this new approach,
will be that for the first time there will be visibility of the
health of Government's Major Projects portfolio and mandated tools
and techniques to inform good decision making and an ability to
intervene or support projects in difficulty.
Thus through this powerful new mandate and by working
in partnership with HM Treasury (including Infrastructure UK),
the Major Projects Authority (MPA) aims to significantly improve
the success rate of Major Projects across Central Government.
For some Major Projects this may mean the review of existing
contracts and suppliers.
However, the main responsibility for reviewing large
contracts, as recommended by the Green Review, and managing government's
largest suppliers lies with the recently appointed Crown Representatives
and the Commercial Portfolio Team. As both teams are based in
the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG).we will co-ordinate mutual
reinforcement where our work streams overlap.
Q11. Who are the members of the MPA? And how
were they selected and appointed?
The operational arm of MPA has been formed from the
Major Projects Directorate (which was formerly part of the Office
of Government Commerce) and other parts of the Cabinet Office.
It has a skilled team of project specialists who have extensive
assurance review experience across a wide range of subject matters.
The MPA's Project review teams will also include accredited Civil
Service reviewers sourced from across government who are matched
for project reviews based on appropriate experience and specialist
skills. The work of the MPA will be supervised by a Steering Group
and Board, drawn from experts within government and independent
executives. The MPA Governance has a Board consisting of senior
stakeholders and external experts to review and challenge MPA's
strategy and operational performance. The Governance structure
and the MPA Board's membership were approved by the ERG Board.
Q12. To whom does the MPA report and what
authority does it have over government departments?
The Major Projects Authority will report to the Efficiency
and Reform Group Board which is chaired jointly by the Minister
for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Whilst the MPA is supported by a mandate issued to
departments by the Prime Minister early in 2011, its strength
is derived from a partnership between Cabinet Office and Treasury
which means that HM Treasury approval will not normally be granted
if suitable assurance is not being carried out, or will be granted
under strict conditions regarding future assurance. The MPA will
work closely with each Department to agree how the requirements
can best be implemented in their environment.
Q13. Who heads up the skunkworks team?
Q14. To whom does the skunkworks team report?
Government skunkworks will report to the Director
of ICT Futures (currently being recruited), but in the interim
reports through the Director of ICT Strategy and Policy.
Mark O'Neill, CIO at Department for Communities,
and Local Government (CLG), is the interim Head of Skunkworks.
We are in the process of appointing a permanent Head of Skunkworks.
Q14. What overall headcount does skunkworks
Q15.1 How many are civil servants?
Q15.2 How many are external resources?
The current overall headcount for skunkworks is three,
of which two are civil servants and 1 is an external resource.
We are currently assessing resourcing requirements and a draft
business case is under consideration. The business case has identified
a team of eight within the skunkworks team, all of whom would
be civil servants.
Q16. What is its annual budget?
Q17. How much of the budget is allocated to
commissioning projects from external sources?
A business case for future resourcing of skunkworks
is currently under consideration.
Every skunkworks commissioned project will have its
own supporting business case and bid for resources.
Q18. How will the skunkworks achieve behavioural/cultural
The Government Skunkworks will work in partnership
with the Major Projects Authority (MPA) to embed a new approach
to the way Government designs, sources and delivers ICT solutions
as part of the spend control process. Skunkworks will also provide
a new channel to engage with SMEs and developers to deliver cheaper
and more innovative ICT solutions. It will also work to embed
agile methods into the procurement and delivery of ICT solutions.
Q19. How will outcomes be measured or otherwise
Government is currently reviewing how best to measure
and audit outcomes delivered by skunkworks. Once we have decided
how to do this we will look to publish our performance data, in
line with the Government's commitment to increase the transparency
of the way we work.
Q20. In oral evidence to the Committee, Mr
Watmore stated that SMEs were being encouraged to work with government
in two ways: either directly, or by subcontracting via prime contractors.
(see Q520 and Q537). However, the Committee has received evidence
demonstrating that Government Departments are currently telling
their SMEs that the Cabinet Office Efficiency & Reform Group
(ERG) has instructed them to switch away from their existing direct
SME contracting arrangements to procurement models operated by
either the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through Capita
on the Cipher contract, or the Home Office CIX service for the
procurement of all IT contractors and interims. Is this the case?
How does compelling SMEs to work for large IT
and IT services suppliers help deliver the policy objective of
a more diverse and open marketplace where SMEs can work directly
for government departments?
What market analysis or benchmarking has been
conducted to show that this is the best and most cost effective
route for central government departments?
As part of the centralising government procurement
programme, supply chains for contractors and interims are being
simplified to deliver better value for money and more detailed
management information to better inform future procurement decisions.
Spend is being channelled into three current channels: a) existing
framework contracts where spot buying is undertaken centrally
(this is known as Home Office Cix), b) department-specific arrangements
based on their unique needs (such as FCO's arrangements with Hays)
and c) an existing contract with Capita, owned and managed by
DWP and available to all government departments.
This contract leads to around 80% of all spend being
channelled to SME providers and that every requirement is advertised
and available for open competition. In effect the Capita service
has been replacing small but more costly contract staff agencies.
The analysis undertaken by ERG demonstrates that
channelling spend in this way results in better value for money
and facilitates the development of an open market in which SMEs
can work with government to help deliver cost savings.
Q21. The Buying Solutions Multi Disciplinary
Consulting (MDC) Category with large government suppliers has
been extended for another year. This is apparently in breach of
legal requirements, taking a maximum four year contract into a
fifth year. Is this the case?
21.1 On what legal basis is this contract
21.2 How does this decision to extend an existing
contract with larger suppliers to government fit with the policy
of opening up government procurement to more SMEs?
21.3 As Buying Solutions has recently competed
26 other Management Consulting and Accounting Services framework
contracts why was the MDC contract not re-competed at the same
After consultation, Buying Solutions considers that
there are sufficient circumstances that justify an extension to
the current framework. The Buying Solutions MDC contract is widely
used within central government, more so than any other framework
contract for consultancy. In order to safeguard front line delivery
that might be dependent on the services provided via this contract,
a decision was taken to extend the life of the contract for a
short period of time whilst Buying Solutions create a more suitable
Buying Solutions are currently working on a new,
replacement procurement process that will include seeing all requirements
for consultancy below £100k to be completed on the open market.
This will provide an opportunity for all suppliers to win government
work not just those within framework contracts. The new process
is anticipated provide more frequent competition and greater opportunity
for all firms; including SMEs to win Government work.
Buying Solutions has not recently competed 26 other
framework contracts. The Management Consultancy and Accounting
Services framework is a single framework that was compete approximately
two years ago. Departments have used this framework to arrange
call off contracts from as they do the MDC framework.
Q22. Although the evidence from the Minister
for Cabinet Office (IT 56) stipulates that they will require SRO's
to stay in post until an appropriate break point in project/ programme
life, they do not state how this will be ensured. Please confirm
how this stipulation will be successfully implemented.
Government ICT will publish as part of the ICT capability
strategy how we, working in conjunction with the Major Projects
Authority, will implement this. This will require consultation
with departments and wider stakeholder community and appropriate
Ministerial committee clearance. The Capability Strategy is scheduled
for publication in autumn 2011.
65 Open Forum Europe (OFE) is an independent, not-for-profit
organisation, which was launched in the UK in March 2002 to accelerate,
broaden and strengthen the use of Open Source Software in business
and government. OFE's role has now expanded Europe-wide and is
a strong supporter of Open Standards and openness and pursues
the vision of facilitating open competitive choice for ICT users. Back
See for example http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/the-tony-collins-blog/2011/04/is-central-health-it-spend-beyond-cabinet-office-control/ Back