The perceived success to date of the NHS IT programme may lead to a greater centralisation of other major IT challenges facing the public sector.
David Albury, principal advisor to the prime minister's strategy unit, said that improvements to NHS IT had benefited from having one negotiator, NHS IT director general Richard Granger.
Departments such as the Ministry of Defence and the NHS had benefited by negotiating as one large organisation, according to Albury.
"Government must get better as a whole to learn from past experiences, and build on examples of good practice," he explained.
Speaking at the Strategic IT Partnerships in Government event Dr Peter Drury, head of the Department of Health information unit, said: "There is a need for some national standards. The local model did not deliver value for money."
But while acknowledging that centralised buying can bring benefits to e-government projects, others have warned that it must not be allowed to stifle innovation.
Jonathan Tamblyn, chairman of the e-government group at industry lobby group Intellect, maintained that there are advantages in adopting national standards, which can reduce complexity and offer easier data exchange.
But he added: "The government has to consider how it can get the benefits of NHS-style procurement, while avoiding the situation where one supplier provides all the central infrastructure."
Whitehall is examining the idea of regional procurement centres but it is unclear how far this could be extended into IT procurement, explained Stewart Stacey, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council.
Birmingham has recently shortlisted four firms to run its outsourced IT operations, with a final decision expected next year.
"There is a role for joint procurement, and we want to share best practice," said Stacey.
"But our strategic partnership is vital in delivering our service improvements, not just improving our IT systems. We'll push ahead with our outsourcing programme."
IT has a big education role in enhancing classroom learning, according to Michael Stevenson, director of strategy and communications at the Department for Education and Skills. But he warned that a nationally dictated policy towards procurement could prove divisive.
"We're interested in the idea of extending regional procurement, but we don't want to stifle innovation. We still need innovative content for our e-learning systems, and don't want to choke off real vibrancy," he said.
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