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Whitehall extends controversial contract with Oracle

The Crown Commercial Service (CSC) has signed a new ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with Oracle, the government’s database provider, despite previous attempts to ditch the service.

The MoU, a non-legal statement of intent, will extend services with Oracle over the next three years. The scope also now includes other public bodies, such as the NHS.

Despite the government assuring that it will “deliver additional savings for the taxpayer”, Oracle operates without competitors and has previously failed to lower its soaring prices during negotiations with the government in 2010.

Conservative MP Kit Malthouse, former deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise, spoke out against the cloud service during London Technology Week last year.

He had said his “top priority was to take Oracle down” and added: “I want someone in London to crack the Oracle lock that they have. Oracle seems to be the only people who can handle data on vast volume.

“Like most people in government, I’ve been screwed by Oracle.”

Commenting on the government’s 2010 austerity measures, which included negotiations to the service’s prices, he said: “They weren’t particularly generous on the discount. We found ourselves in a situation where there wasn’t really anywhere else to go.”

Earlier this month, IT website The Register reported that the Cabinet Office had formally contracted central agencies in July tasking them with “getting rid of Oracle”.

According to TechMarketView, the government spent £290m with Oracle in 2013.

The Register also determined that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was buying over two million Oracle licenses at £155 per employee, contrary to the government’s guidelines of £93 each – with a view to reduce it to £52.

Despite this, Sally Collier, chief executive of CCS, said: “The enhanced MoU will deliver savings across government and allow easier and more effective procurement of Oracle products and services. It lays the foundation of a more collaborative relationship between government and Oracle.”

The government has not defined projections of how much money the new MoU will save.


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