Government review set to affect IT contractors

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Government review set to affect IT contractors


The Cabinet Office’s review into spending on IT contracts does not bode well for the future of IT contractors working on government department assignments.

To put it bluntly, the Cabinet Office has acknowledged that the taxpayer is not getting a good deal from the current arrangements and the storm being raised by the review, which has bizarrely been dubbed ‘Ocean Liner’, could see the hopes of contractors relying on government work cruelly dashed.

A background document states: “These contracts have not stood the test of time. The opaque nature of service delivery hides the fact that many are not good value for money.”

The document also explains why government departments are continuing to use IT contractors. This is for exactly the same reasons the private sector is hiring contractors – the shortage of personnel with the requisite skills. One of the main reasons for the Cabinet Office’s ire is the conduct of the individual government departments, each of which appears to be doing its own thing when it comes to hiring.

The review is quite obviously aimed at finding a way for the IT jobs currently being undertaken by contractors to be performed in-house. This should be of real concern to IT contractors taking on government jobs, as the Ocean Liner team is hoping to sort everything out during the current parliament − when most of the current contracts are set to end.

Even allowing for the snail’s pace at which government usually works, the review’s findings should be a real cause for concern, especially for those hoping for more government work beyond 2020.

The IT skills shortage is likely to remain acute, of course, and there will be government work available for contractors well into the next decade; however, these contracts may be far harder to come by.

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