Jobs for the boys?

Re-posted from archive of infinite ideas machine 2004:

Will Atos Origin, originally formed in 2000 by the merging of French (Axime + Sligos = Atos) & Dutch (Origin = Royal Philips Electronics subsidiary) IT management and services companies, who later acquired KPMG Consulting (to trade in the UK as Atos KPMG Consulting) turn out to be the soon-to-be-appointed “development partner bringing in detailed expertise from outside Government” as announced in last week’s Home Office press release?

They are, after all, the ones running the current UK Passport Service Six Month Biometrics Enrolment Trial, which started only a couple of months behind schedule – an all-time record for a UK Government IT project!

Of course, their recent acquisition of / merger with the world’s leading smartcard solution provider, SchlumbergerSema (January 2004) would make them the *obvious* choice – but could it possibly be a little arrogant of them to assert on their UK home page that:

“The increased strength and depth of our end-to-end solutions and services, coupled with our expertise in Enterprise, Financial Services, Medical Services, Public Sector, Telecom, Media and Utilities and Transport ensures that the new Atos Origin is the future of IT services in the UK.” [emphasis added]

Is Atos Origin becoming so powerful that it can basically take over any company that it sees as having the potential to ‘interfere’ with its lucrative Public Sector contracts? Are current or future Governments likely to act (e.g. regarding anti-competitive practices) against a supplier that delivers the very core of their information infrastructure?

I’m not a great one for conspiracy theories – its hard to believe in an all-powerful, evil ‘them’ when greed, stupidity and untrammelled ‘free’ market forces seem to do just as good a job of screwing things up. The managements of the mega-consultancies, manufacturers and service companies are simply doing what comes naturally in business – i.e. keeping an eye to the bottom line – while certain politicians seem hell-bent on pissing away billions of our tax pounds, while simultaneously and systematically corrupting and undermining the fundamentals of an equal and fair Information Society.

UPDATED 5/5/04: Thanks to Trevor Mendham for pointing out the recent FT article ‘Companies wary about running ID cards scheme’ on his UK ID Cards blog. The article refers to concerns voiced by Capita and Serco – and mentions that Atos, EDS and Capgemini (who just last week were ’embracing a new consulting paradigm’) are ‘talking to the Home Office about how to build the database’!

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