Fujitsu confirms departure of MD of Government Business

Fujitsu has confirmed that Eithne Wallis, Managing Director, Government Business at Fujitsu Services, has left the company.

Asked about her departure and the loss of Fujitsu’s £330m desktop contract with the Department for Work and Pensions, a spokesman for the company told me on 18 March 2011 that Wallis “announced several weeks ago that her career would be entering the next phase in terms of taking on non-exec director roles in both the private and public.sector”.

Wallis presided over successful government business such as the “ Flex” deal which cuts the price of desktop services, and turns into commodity items the data centre, desktop hardware and software, service desk, network management, security and disaster recovery.

But she was also running government business at the time the DWP last month cancelled its contract with Fujitsu. The six-year contract had been running for only a year.

At the time the company won the contract in February 2010 Fujitsu described it as the “UK’s biggest desktop and thin-client outsource deal”, for about 140,000 desktop devices.

Wallis said of the deal at the time of contract award:

"As the Government moves forward with its Common IT Platform agenda, change will be driven by innovative approaches to business critical, but everyday, IT such as the desktop platforms in use across the wider public sector. 

“The decision to award this contract to Fujitsu reflects our proven experience in working with government over the last 40 years. We currently manage desktop estates for a number of key government Departments and lead the shared services work with the Cabinet Office and others as part of the Flex framework. 

“This coupled with the decision last year to integrate the IT hardware supplier Fujitsu Siemens Computers into the company, means we have established ourselves as the major force in desktop provision in the UK. 

"Being awarded the contract to do the same for one of the largest government Departments, goes to show the confidence customers have in our ability. It will be hugely rewarding to work with DWP on such a landmark project that will not only deliver significant financial savings to the customer, but also a better end-user experience for all of its staff."

But the DWP cancelled the contract on 11 March 2011, before new systems had been delivered. Internally the DWP told staff there were “delivery issues”. 

Channel Register reported last month that Fujitsu had missed three start dates to begin its work which was scheduled to start on 31 August 2010.

The company had hoped that its thin-client approach would save the DWP tens of millions of pounds in energy costs alone.

Joe Harley, DWP IT director general & chief information officer said at the time: 

“This is the first in a series of competitions to replace our existing IT and telephony services contracts by 2015 and it sets the tone by delivering significant benefits for the Department and as a framework for Government wide IT.” 

A tough new approach to IT suppliers?

Some may wonder whether the DWP’s apparently tough stance on the Fujitsu contract reflects a new determination by officials in the Cabinet Office to crack down on IT suppliers. 

I’m told, though, that the contract would have been terminated even if Labour had still been in power.

Fujitsu’s spokesman said: “Fujitsu can confirm that it has received notification from the Department for Work and Pensions that they wish to bring the desktop contract, awarded in February 2010, to an end.  We are not able to provide any further comment at this stage.”

A DWP spokesperson said HP, the DWP’s main IT supplier, is covering for Fujitsu in the short term. The deal may be re-tendered. 

A new conciliatory approach to government by Fujitsu

Meanwhile Fujitsu, corporately, is taking a distinctly conciliatory approach to government IT legal matters, partly as a result of government, for the first time, warning suppliers that any dispute with one department is, potentially, a dispute with all. 

A separate blog piece on this will follow.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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