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HMRC leads government in SMB IT supplier adoption

29 Jan 2013
HM Revenue and Customs

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is spearheading the government's strategy to adopt more small and medium suppliers in the procurement of public sector software, services and hardware.

As part of its ICT Futures commitments, the Cabinet Office has encouraged the public sector to use SMB IT suppliers rather than the large IT suppliers it has always traditionally turned to.

The aim is to encourage more competition in the government procurement market, while cutting costs in public sector spending, and ensuring taxpayers' money is spent with UK firms too.

However with large suppliers strongly entrenched in the government market, the task has not been easy.

In an exclusive interview with V3, HMRC IT director and acting chief information officer Mark Hall, discussed his department's increasing work with technology suppliers that are SMBs, and how the department will share this best practise with the rest of government.

Soon HMRC will host an event for civil servants on how to use more SMBs across government, he said.

"We already use about 100 SMBs in out indirect supply chain, but we want to extend this and use more SMBs through the G-Cloud programme," added Hall.

HMRC was the first government department to sign a cloud contract through the G-Cloud, the government's online cloud procurement store, which hosts many offerings from SMBs.

This contract was with Skyscape to store all of HMRC's tax collection data.

"At the moment we're just using the cloud for document storage, but this has allowed us to move thousands of servers off premise. These are just where we would normally store traditional Word and Excel documents," said Hall.

Hall said HMRC is currently out to tender for collaboration tools, and that the department was considering a number of different suppliers from the G-Cloud framework.

HMRC also plans to boost the number of smaller suppliers it uses through adopting an scheme similar to that of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Like the GDS, HMRC will invite start-ups and SMBs into government offices to work with in-house application developers.

"We have around 300 people doing in-house app development at HMRC and we want these people to work with SMBs. We are looking at a vehicle to bring them in," said Hall.

Hall added HMRC is working closely with the GDS on its digital strategy.

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