Tech firms form breakaway lobby

Tech firms form breakaway lobby

Kiwi-owned technology firms unhappy with government procurement reforms are mobilising to set up their own industry body. About 12 firms, including Wellington open source software companies Catalyst IT and Silverstripe, and web design firm 3months, have lined up to join the breakaway lobby group, currently called "NZ Rise". The reforms aim to streamline procurement processes, centralise the purchasing of commodity items such as PCs and stationery and deliver "shared services" to government departments. Don Christie, founder of Catalyst IT, said the procurement reforms would disadvantage homegrown companies but that message had not been clearly stated by umbrella industry group NZICT – which was dominated by its "tier one" or higher paying members, which include Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft. "Massive contracts by their nature will exclude New Zealand companies. Some of the big multi-national integrators are going to get a huge advantage." Another bone of contention had been NZICT's strong support of software patents – to which a number of firms were opposed. "There's a feeling among a lot of New Zealand companies that we need to have that voice." NZ Rise had met with NZICT. "There are times we will work together in the interests of the industry and there are times we will have different messages. "There's no big battle and it seems entirely reasonable companies could belong to both organisations." NZICT chief executive Brett O'Riley said it did not support centralised procurement. "What the Government is talking about is a shared services strategy which has agencies collaborating. The only centralised procurement there's been has been around hardware and there's a recognition that that was low-hanging fruit. "We represent about 300 companies. It's not in our interests to advocate for something which would just benefit a few. "We should be looking to collaborate around the areas where we do agree and that is driving domestic productivity and increasing foreign exchange opportunities for New Zealand."

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