SOEasy to stay on target for 2010

The Singapore government has said its standard operating ICT environment (SOE) project is well on the way to meeting its goal for full implementation across 74 government agencies by 2010.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

The Singapore government's massive plan to standardize desktop and network components for the country's public sector is underway.

The Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) is currently being implemented in phases across 74 government agencies--excluding the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) which has its own system and the Ministry of Education, which has plans for a separate SOE project.

After a year's delay, the S$1.3 billion (US$931 million) contract was finally awarded in February this year to EDS-led consortium, oneMeridian, which named its implementation SOEasy.

A spokesperson for the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) told ZDNet Asia the implementation is happening in phases, with the first batch of agencies expected to have a full rollout by July 2009.

The initial batch of agencies includes the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and the IDA.

The project is expected to keep on track with the IDA's set targets of being fully implemented by 2010.

Through the SOE, the government is hoping to reap savings of S$500 million (US$358 million) over eight years and replace 200 individual contracts.

However, analyst firm, Gartner, has some doubts on the feasibility of achieving these savings. It said in a report released last month that savings accrued from standardization and adopting utility-based models could be thrown off by unexpected cost increases and delays.

Gartner raised the example of managing PC upgrades: delays in communicating supply needs could delay hardware procurement, setting off a chain leading to possible unforeseen costs such as having to renew expired licenses and contracts.

The tussle for the contract
The SOE tender made its way to the headlines most of last year, as four consortia vied for the lucrative project.

Competition ensued between the four consortia: EDS-led oneMeridian, HP-led iN'spire, NEC-led NexGenea and NCS-led One Team.

Each consortium typically assembled smaller players that would contribute to the project, led by a bigger company.

While each consortium touted its individual strengths, oneMeridian may have won by stretching the government's dollar further than the others: Lim Hup Seng, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said at a press briefing that oneMeridian was chosen because "it gave us best value for money".

OneMeridian includes Alcatel-Lucent, Avanade, Cisco Systems, BT-owned Frontline Technologies, Microsoft, Singapore Computer Systems and SingTel.

Ironically, while HP lost the SOE contract, it may find itself a part to play in it through its recently-announced acquisition of EDS. The IDA has not said how much involvement HP will have in the SOEasy project, but did tell ZDNet Asia in May that the agency is in "detailed discussion" with the consortium regarding this.

OneMeridian has begun work on the SOE. EDS told ZDNet Asia in April that securing physical space for offices and data centers and confirming an account governance model were first on its list of tasks.

EDS said it will dedicate a team of 105 to the project, with the consortium collectively expected to have some 800 personnel working on it during peak phases.

The services provider could not comment further on the developments of the project when contacted, redirecting ZDNet Asia to the IDA for queries. The IDA, too, could not provide additional comments.

Beyond SOEasy: the second schools phase

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is excluded from the SOEasy project--its plans to build a separate SOE will represent some 100,000 seats, and makes up the second phase of the overall SOE project.

This phase is in the pre-qualification tender stage, and is expected to take off in two years' time.

So far, four consortia have submitted proposals. The MOE said they are SingTel-led Ednovate@SG, ST Electronics-led Team AdVance, a Civica led consortium and NCS.

Although the Ministry said in May the results of the tender winner would be announced in July, it appeared to be still deliberating its decision, when ZDNet Asia checked last week.

The final tender is targeted for April 2009.

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