I have spent some time in the last month talking to a number of service providers who are targeting public sector business. A recurring complaint has been the cost and time required to obtain and maintain PSN compliance.
The Public Sector Network has been labelled a ‘network of networks’ setting the standards and codes that both suppliers and users adhere to within the public sector, with the aim of reducing costs for both government and suppliers.
PSN compliance is, in theory, a way of levelling the competitive playing field, by setting a series of technical and process standards against which a provider is assessed before being deemed fit to sell a particular product or service. Any authority who wants to buy, for example, a hosted voice solution for its staff, can specify PSN compliance to a particular security standard. Bidders who meet the standard can then be compared on a like for like basis, and the authority has assurance that the product itself will meet a consistent standard. The process is outlined in the diagram below.[caption id="attachment_554" align="aligncenter" width="600"] PSN Compliance Process for Suppliers.[/caption]
However, in practice the system doesn’t work (or at least, only works for large, incumbent suppliers). The reasons for this are simple:
Ultimately, minimum standards, especially for security, do have to be set and maintained in order to protect public information assets. However, the PSN Authority should have an obligation to consider (and report on) the cost of PSN compliance if the public sector market is to remain competitive.
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