Feeds

Government scrambles Intellect code

Badge of honour unravels

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Trade body Intellect is failing in its efforts to regulate public sector IT suppliers because it lacks the vital support of government customers.

Instead of trusting suppliers to do a good job, government has taken matters in its own hands and used a more severe approach to making them behave responsibly. The result is that Intellect's code of best practice - a set of principles by which government suppliers swear to do their best to produce IT systems that work - is looking ever more like a damp squib.

Prolonged government neglect of the code is becoming an embarrassment. On its first anniversary this time last year, Intellect complained that government indifference was stunting the scheme's growth and civil servants insisted they would show it more kindness in 2005.

But little has changed. Intellect's statements on the matter this week were indistinguishable from those it made a year ago. We've done our bit, said the trade association's government director Nick Kalisperas, it's up to the public sector to pull its weight now.

Intellect has ailed to attract more than a couple of suppliers from its membership of around a thousand to join the 50 who were already signed up to the code this time last year - though, it should be noted, these do include the major government suppliers.

Government is taking little interest in this ornamental code of honour, partly because it doesn't have to, partly because there are more important matters to be dealt with. It is a good indication of where the power currently lies in the relationship between industry and government.

The reason the government doesn't have to play ball is that the IT industry is dependent on government business as its major source of income. So the British government's contracting sheriff, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), has got suppliers by the goolies. All suppliers can do is smile sweetly, show their medals and hope it doesn't squeeze too hard.

The OGC has accordingly been dictating terms of business, most significantly through tough contractual terms.

Though of questionable use in helping to avoid IT disasters, these terms might be a far more effective means of ensuring suppliers play to the government's tune than a voluntary code. And it may also be a favoured method of protecting public sector IT managers (who are less clued-up than their private sector counterparts and therefore easy prey) from unscrupulous sales people while the eGovernment unit puts them through its newly formed IT management school.

The OGC has got enough on its plate besides. As well as its ongoing controversial review of contracts, there is a bothersome set of European procurement laws being implemented, and a new government IT strategy. On top of all that, it has to help deliver the Gershon efficiency savings - arguably the most radical change programme the government has seen.

The code is of little practical value to Intellect without public sector buy-in. Customers are not even demanding that suppliers have the code when they put business to tender. Neither are they noting whether suppliers abide by the code and complaining about them when they do.

Perhaps if Intellect had real teeth it might attract some interest. As it stands, suppliers who offend the code face having their association membership revoked. (Ouch - ed)

The OGC says it has people on the job promoting the code among government customers, though you never can tell. The latest word from the agency is that it is being considered part of the Government IT strategy, which is a euphemism for, 'not now, dear, I'm busy'.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.