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UK procurement contract review drags on

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The government has broadened its review of contractual terms that it recommends are used by public sector buyers when implementing IT projects.

In August 2005, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the government's procurement sheriff, conceded to industry pressure and agreed to review the new model contract terms it introduced against industry advice in November 2004.

The pilot of the new model terms was going to be the retendering of £1bn worth of contracts by the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA), a project called DISC.

However, in a written statement to The Register, the OGC said it needed to review other projects before it could be sure of its conclusions.

"Learning will be captured from a range of programmes and projects making use of the model contract framework," it said.

"It would be inappropriate to overly depend on the experience of any one project, such as DISC, especially when implementation is still at such an early stage," it added.

The DCA told The Register repeatedly last year that it was unable to discuss any lessons it had learned from using the new model contract terms until the contracts had been let. This was done in November after a delay of about six months.

"The DCA has co-operated by sharing with the OGC its experience of using the model contracts as part of the model's continuing development," it said in November.

The OGC said it couldn't reveal the substance of its contractual review - it would have to leave that to the DCA. But the DCA was not forthcoming.

"The DISC contracts were largely based on the OGC model contracts and modified only to take into account the specific needs of the DISC programme."

What we don't yet know is what this all means for the £12bn of procurement managed annually by the public sector. That is, whether the new model contract terms the industry has opposed actually give the government better value for money on IT contracts.

"We will make decisions on any changes to the current version, at the end of the process in the summer," the OGC said in a statement. ®

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