HC Deb 19 March 2002 vol 382 c255W
Valerie Davey

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she is taking to encourage competition(a) for departmental IT contracts and (b) for local education authority IT contracts. [44198]

Mr. Ivan Lewis

The Department follows EC Directives and UK Regulations in letting contracts, including those for IT goods and services. The Department works with the Office of Government Commerce to achieve enhanced competition in all market sectors.

Section 5 of the Local Government Act 1999 requires Best Value authorities to carry out reviews of the services they provide. This applies to local education authorities' IT requirements and, where they take on the role, for provision of IT requirements on behalf of the schools within their area.

The Department through BECTa has established a pilot procurement advisory service to advise schools on IT procurement. BECTa are running a competition to accredit ICT suppliers for education.

The Government has made it clear that the future for public service provision is one where there is real variety in the way services are delivered and genuine plurality among service providers. The objective is to not favour one supplier against another but to encourage diversity, innovation and the competitiveness of the supply base.