Small to medium-sized firms dealing in software and information technology will be favoured in future tenders for government projects, the Director of Information Technology Services said yesterday. The initiative is part of the Government's Digital 21 blueprint to promote the local IT industry and transform the SAR into a hi-tech hub. 'Our goal is to outsource two-thirds of all government IT projects to the private sector by the end of 2001,' director Lau Kam-hung said. 'We want to expand areas so more and more IT companies in Hong Kong can compete. Small to medium-sized companies play a vital role in the industry.' Mr Lau was speaking at the launch of the Information and Software Industry Association, which aims to become the industry spokesman for more than 600 software firms in Hong Kong. Contracts worth $460 million have been earmarked by the Information Technology Services Department for private IT companies this year. More than 20 government departments co-ordinated by the Information Technology Services Department will offer new tenders in the next two to three years. Association spokeswoman Satti Wong Lo welcomed the Government's initiative, saying the association would coach members to compete for government contracts. 'Since many IT or software firms are small or medium-sized, we want to help them to work together on different parts of a large contract. This would help utilise their sometimes limited resources and make them more competitive in bidding for government contracts,' she said.