The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shunned the government's mission to end big IT contracts with major technology firms, claiming that the scale of its technology overhaul requires enterprise clout.
The government's digital transformation agenda has a policy that forbids IT contracts with a lifetime worth of over £100m.
Part of this is to encourage the Civil Service to procure technology from small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as opposed to large global suppliers, and avoid costly IT projects that fail to achieve their ambitions.
However, the MoD has signed contracts with Fujitsu and the Atlas consortium comprising HP, Airbus Defence and Space, CGI and Fujitsu, worth a combined £1.5bn as part of an IT transformation that will save £1bn in costs over 10 years.
An MoD spokesperson told V3 that the size of the department's IT projects means that they can be fulfilled only by major IT firms, as SMEs lack the scale and resources to meet the MoD's technology requirements.
Luckily for the MoD, the government's IT procurement policy has a caveat that has allowed it to sign the lengthy and hefty contracts.
"No IT contract will be allowed over £100m in value, unless there is an exceptional reason to do so," the government's policy states.
The MoD has split its IT contracts into two projects - the New Style of IT and Global Connectivity - designed to overhaul the MoD to improve its computing capabilities and save money.
In combination the projects will deliver an IT system that allows the MoD to make use of cloud computing and software, such as Microsoft Office 365, and embrace workplace mobility.
Worth £993m and awarded to Atlas, the New Style of IT project is a renegotiation of the original extension of the Defence Information Infrastructure. It will be used to supply technology that allows the MoD to work in a more flexible, capable and collaborative way while maintaining high security levels.
Global Connectivity will replace the Defence Fixed Telecoms Service when it ends in July 2016, and will focus on delivering communication capabilities for the MoD.
Fujitsu has won a contract by itself worth in excess of £550m to provide core global connectivity services to the MoD for the next five years.
The MoD is still lacking contracts to fulfil the voice, video and mobile phone elements of the Global Connectivity project, but said that these will be addressed in due course.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon explained that the contacts with Atlas and Fujitsu will allow the MoD to be more efficient and cost-effective.
"We must keep pace with those who pose a threat to UK security, whether overt or cyber-based. The new contracts will enhance our fighting capability and make us more efficient in our work," he said.
"Alongside this enhanced capability we have managed to secure huge savings of £1bn over 10 years. All of this money will be reinvested back into defence, ultimately helping to keep Britain safe."
Defence is an area where the government is keen to see more technology adoption, such as the British Army exploring the use of cloud systems despite the obvious security concerns.
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