The executive director of shared services in the Cabinet Office, Paul Marriner, has defended the decision to procure from Oracle an IT system for public sector shared services centres worth £250-750m. This follows public criticism from the former head of the G-Cloud programme, Chris Chant, who told Computer Weekly magazine that the decision is a “1993 solution to a 2013 problem,” and said the government should instead be buying a much cheaper, open-source solution through its G-Cloud portal.
Marriner said in an interview with CSW that the government hasn’t yet purchased anything from Oracle, and has simply set out a pre-tender “prior information notice (PIN)” to alert suppliers about plans to upgrade IT systems for some government shared services centres. “We have procured nothing from Oracle; we’ve bought nothing from Oracle,” he said.
“The bottom end of that PIN was put in at £250m, and we won’t even reach that – I don’t believe. But this was put out to look at the market, and get the market’s view,” he added. “Oracle very well know that we are looking to cut our Oracle costs, not increase our Oracle costs.”
Marriner said that the Cabinet Office has to buy something from Oracle, rather than pursue an open source solution, because many departments are committed to using Oracle systems but the licenses will soon expire.
Marriner also said: “Chris [Chant] is not close to the Shared Services Strategy. I applaud his creation of the G-Cloud framework… but what G-Cloud doesn’t do at the moment is give us services that those departments [with] Oracle solutions need”.
Read the full interview