The government risks "boring" suppliers if it forges on with plans to create yet another pan-public sector IT framework so soon after the launch of ITHS [IT hardware and solutions] last summer.
That is the warning of Michael Keegan, managing director of Fujitsu Technology Solutions, a vendor which features heavily on both ITHS and its predecessor framework CITHS [commodity IT hardware and software], which was recently extended for another six months.
Government Procurement Services (GPS) informed suppliers last week that CITHS will now run for its maximum permissible period of four years, until 28 February 2014, amid concerns that ITHS has failed to get off the ground.
Ahead of its launch last July, GPS estimated that the 12-Lot ITHS framework – which is designed to save the taxpayer money by increasing public sector purchasing power on a modest number of pre-set PC, laptop, tablet, server and other hardware specifications – would be worth £4bn over two years.
But according to sources, just £8m of business has been conducted through ITHS since it was launched last July.
In that time period, CRN understands that £380m of business went through CITHS, which, while often working out dearer, offers public sector clients more flexibility.
GPS is known to have begun consulting on a new framework set to go live early next year that could supersede both CITHS and ITHS, the latter of which will expire in June 2014 with an option to extend for two years.
But Keegan said: "I would question the reasons why they need another one. We had CITHS, then they got us to bid for ITHS. If they come out with another great new idea, the industry might get bored with it.
"The government has a responsibility not to waste the industry's money by getting [suppliers] to bid for frameworks they do not subsequently use. They must be sure that any successor framework is adding value as they are very expensive to bid for."
ITHS was designed to rationalise the assortment of products public sector bodies purchase, an idea Keegan admitted had not altogether worked. But he called on GPS to do more to promote ITHS rather than abandoning it.
"ITHS is good for optimising prices but there is still work buyers might want to do to optimise their platform after they have chosen it – and CITHS gives them the ability to do that. If they buy off CITHS, they can have a further competition.
"They have an awareness problem [with ITHS] and it is their responsibility – along with ours – to promote it to their buyers," he said.
Fujitsu features on eight of the 12 Lots of ITHS and two of the three Lots of CITHS.
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