Britain’s land registry to cull IT suppliers

LONDON – The Land Registry will reduce the number of IT suppliers it works with in a bid to improve project management and reduce costs.

It will also continue to focus on in-house development, supplemented by external contractors on specific projects, while new framework contracts help it to cope with peaks in demand on its IT, according to director of information systems John Wright.

He told Computerworld UK that the Land Registry, which is the government department that stores information on property ownership, will reduce the number of suppliers from approximately a dozen to a handful during the next year. The Land Registry currently works with IBM, HP and LogicaCMG, among large suppliers, as well as several smaller specialists.

“We wanted to consolidate the number to ensure a cost improvement, and to improve the quality of the relationships so that we have a better understanding of each other,” he said. Planning is currently taking place, he said, and no decisions have been announced yet.

Much of its software development and IT maintenance is run in house, by a large 450 strong IT department. “We do have a very capable internal IT organization, but even with that it is impractical to be completely in-house,” he said.

The Land Registry recently signed framework agreements with Civica and Perot Systems, which Wright said would help maintain infrastructure effectiveness during peak times of demand, such as when the government or key law society members launch new initiatives.

IBM is one of the Land Registry’s ongoing key suppliers, working on an e-conveyancing project which will put all of the country’s land registry onto the web to be accessible by conveyancing firms and individuals. Wright said the project would “facilitate” access to key information, such as outstanding charges on land including mortgages, increase transparency of information, and reduce costs by eliminating paper processes.

Web access to the conveyancing information began going live in March, and next month it will be possible to complete documents online, he said. The overall project will run until 2012.

IBM also provides much of the Land Registry’s key applications and hardware, including z Series mainframes, DB2 databases, and WebSphere application servers.

The Land Registry also has an ongoing human resources transformation project, run by Logica. Its communications infrastructure, including local and wide area networks, are run by HP, which also provides the department’s 8,500 Microsoft-based desktop PCs. It uses Oracle Financials software and SAP human resources systems.

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