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Public sector 'must shift further to embrace agile tech'

UKAuthority - The need to shift public sector cultures further towards embracing smaller, more innovative businesses as technology suppliers was stressed at yesterday's ND13, the National Digital conference in London.

The conference, in its eighth year, focused on the expansion of digital skills and capabilities of all parts of UK society - citizens, government, charities and businesses.

Benjamin Southworth, deputy chief executive of Tech City UK, the quango set up to invest in the East London technology hub, said that government often received "an awful return on investment" in using large multinationals for tech projects. "It is essential government uses small businesses". Smaller firms are more responsive, more accessible and more approachable, helping people engage with government, Southworth said.

Changes had already taken place in public sector procurement systems that were helping to engage smaller firms, he said, with "short and sweet" cloud-based procurement throwing up examples of processes taking a few weeks compared with months and years in the past. "The old style of procurement - asking for 10 years' worth of accounts - is not much use in the digital world."

But barriers remained in the psychology of parts of the public sector, which remained slow to embrace more agile methods, Southworth said.