Indian outsourcer sets its sights on Whitehall and its "hugely inefficient" suppliers
Against a backdrop of cost-cutting and squeezed profits in the UK public sector, Indian outsourcer HCL has revealed it will be going after an even bigger slice of the government pie.
Its CEO Vineet Nayar told journalists at its headquarters in Delhi today that the company will be targeting the UK public sector "very aggressively".
Nayar's comments come despite the government's recent moves to slash the amount it spends with some of its biggest suppliers: in July this year, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude met with 19 of the largest public sector vendors, including IT companies Accenture, Atos Origin and Capgemini, to ask them to cut their profits on public sector deals by £800m.
India's fourth-largest IT business, HCL, is aiming for a greater role in the public sector
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Nayar welcomed the move, claiming that public sector contracts today are wasteful.
Public sector "outsourcing contracts are inefficient", he said. "They have to be measured against global benchmarks and open to more people... You cannot take from citizens and give to companies that are hugely inefficient."
Whitehall is already on its own mission to tackle inefficiency, with last week's government comprehensive spending review aiming to trim the amount being spent on public sector IT by more than £1bn.
However, the cuts have led to fears that the drive towards cost-cutting could see innovative vendors shut out from public sector contracts.
But HCL's CEO insisted the cost-cutting doesn't have to come at the expense of innovation: "It's not about cost arbitrage, it's not about moving jobs from the UK to India - it's about innovation... and innovation will come from the use of technology," he said.
And despite the public sector cost-cutting agenda, Nayar said any UK government work undertaken by HCL could be carried out onshore, rather than in lower-cost offshore locations such as India.
"We will be happy to deliver 100 per cent of services from the UK," he said.
The UK government's own attitude to offshoring meanwhile has seen something of a thaw - in March, the HMRC began an 18-month pilot project to assess whether the department should carry out more IT work offshore, while the CIO Council earlier this year pledged to investigate whether development work "across government" could be carried out from lower-cost locations.