No going back on shift away from big IT vendors, says former No. 10 policy guru

Taking a punt on a start-up is better than explaining costly failures to the Public Accounts Committee, according to Daniel Korski



 


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By Sam Trendall

04 Jul 2017

The government’s shift away from big overarching engagements with major tech vendors is “a journey that cannot be reversed”, according to a former leading adviser of David Cameron.

Daniel Korski served as a special adviser and, latterly, deputy head of policy for Cameron during his time as prime minister. But having left Downing Street last year, he has now launched Public, a venture capital firm focused on government-specialised technology start-ups. Last week Public revealed the identity of the 10 companies selected for the first iteration of GovStart, a six-month incubator programme.



Speaking to CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, Korski said that giving such firms a leg-up into public sector frameworks could benefit a government that is still “getting a raw deal” from large IT manufacturers. He brushed off the suggestion that it is difficult for government entities to break free from relationships with vendors whose technology their operations have run on for decades. 

“I think the big vendors would like to make it hard, but Francis Maude, Mike Bracken and Bill Crothers showed that it is possible, if you are focused. It just requires resolve and leadership,” he said. “And I would turn around and say that [going with a smaller vendor] is a darn sight better than having to answer to the Public Accounts Committee when there is another costly failure.”

Caroline Nokes was recently given ministerial responsibility within the Cabinet Office for overseeing the work of the Government Digital Service, and Korski expressed approval of her arrival in the post. But he added that, whoever has the reins of the Cabinet Office and GDS, the public sector will continue to decouple itself from big-ticket engagements with IT giants.

“To be frank with you, we have set out on a journey that cannot be reversed,” he said. “I welcome the appointment of Caroline Nokes, as the new minister, and we will do everything we can to help her.”

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