The government has launched a framework for local authorities to buy software to improve services offered by suppliers and encourage innovation.
The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that local authorities spend roughly £1 billion a year, almost half of their IT budgets, on buying and maintaining software applications.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS), which led the procurement, said that 'disjointed buying' of software in local government results in a 'large disparity' in the prices paid across the sector.
It hopes that this new framework will help to reduce price disparities, disrupt the market and improve what it described as 'poor service/outcomes delivered by suppliers' to local authorities.
The framework is estimated to be worth up to £360 million over four years.
Councils can choose from 47 suppliers offering services across 11 lots. The vast majority - 77 percent - are SMEs, although a number of large well-established suppliers such as CSC, Capita, Civica and TCS are also on the list.
The categories include software for payment processing, libraries, revenue and benefit payments, housing, social care, public health, civil enforcement and citizen engagement, amongst others.
There is also a section for 'systems and services to create and improve openness, interoperability and data sharing between systems, citizens and staff' which CCS hopes will improve user experience and help to cut costs in local government.
The contract covers not only software but also relevant services such as design, development and installation of systems, support and maintenance, and business process services.
CCS hopes that the framework will help to encourage use of SMEs, increase price transparency and help authorities to work together.
The contract is based on open book accounting, which CCS said is "particularly important for support and maintenance costs."
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