Headlines: September 2nd, 2002

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs announcement that it plans to outsource IT services shortly has angered the Public and Commercial Services Union. Under the previous Conservative Government, IT services were market tested and the ‘in house’ team provided the winning bid. Subsequently a Better Quality Service review concluded that outsourcing of in-house IT services would not be cost-effective. The Union, with 1000 members working in IT, is infuriated that the plan will lead to competition between private sector companies and that the ‘in house’ team will be excluded from the process.The Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already criticised the plans and strongly recommended that DEFRA delay any outsourcing decision until a comprehensive departmental IT strategy is in place. DEFRA argues its IT strategy is ‘work in progress’ that will be developed by private consultants during the outsourcing process.

The IT contract is likely to be worth about 65-80 million pounds per year and it is expected that departmental staff would transfer to the successful bidder.