Public sector buyers have so far given Government Procurement Services' (GPS') mega IT hardware and services (ITHS) a wide berth, according to suppliers.
When ITHS went live last summer, GPS estimated it would be worth a potential £4bn over four years to the 17 vendors and resellers that were awarded framework agreements and would save the taxpayer £6.5m in its current financial year alone.
Although public sector buyers still have the ability to purchase hardware through the old Buying Solutions CITHS framework, ITHS was designed to fulfil a different brief by increasing the government's buying power on a set number of SKUs.
However, business through ITHS has so far been slow to non-existent, according to multiple suppliers.
One said that invitation to quotes he had seen for the new framework, which GPS devised with the help of buying consortium Pro5, had been outnumbered by more than 20 to one by those for CITHS since July.
ITHS covers everything from PCs, laptops and tablets to printers, thin clients, storage, servers and switching but – unlike CITHS – does not encompass software.
Some expressed hope that sales will pick up once CITHS expires in August but others said the problem lies either with the framework itself or the way it is being promoted, and called for CITHS to be retendered.
Michael Keegan, managing director of Fujitsu's technology solutions division, whose firm bagged a place on eight of the 12 Lots, agreed that volumes so far had been sluggish.
"In fairness to the government, they are running off the end of the old frameworks but it is fair to say it has been slow," he said.
"I think the public sector needs to do more to promote it. It is not the first and will not be the last public sector framework that has got off to a slow start."
Jamie Burke, public sector sales director at Softcat, said ITHS offers a much more limited choice of suppliers than CITHS and is also suffering due to its lack of software provision.
"In general, customer feedback about the ITHS framework has been tepid at best and customers are exploring other frameworks," he said.
"Given customer adoption and familiarity with the CITHS framework it would make a lot of sense to retender all three Lots [client devices, infrastructure and software],"
Another large VAR, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It has not been particularly well promoted by Pro5 to customers – I don't think customers are clued up as to what it is." He added that business had been brisker on Lots 11 and 12, which offer non-standard hardware, than Lots one to 10.
Open to all organisations across the public sector, ITHS is set to run for at least two and up to four years, with the £4bn cited as a potential maximum amount that could be spent over its lifespan.
Stuart Fenton, EMEA president of Insight (pictured), was unfazed by the lack of buy-in so far.
"I tend to look at the total number of bids from all the frameworks," he said. "ITQs is broadly similar to other time periods. It is very normal when there are new frameworks for clients to buy through the old ones until they are replaced."
Nathan Knight, UK commercial business manager at Acer – which is represented on ITHS through Computacenter on multiple Lots – was more positive.
"We invested pretty heavily in Q4 to enable the contract and it is just coming into peak now," he said.
"I think public sector budgets are not as big as they were last year, so probably there is a lot of scrapping for a diminishing pool."
CRN contacted GPS to ask whether the £6.5m savings target cited above is still viable but was still awaiting a response as this story went to press.
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