The government has fired the starting pistol on the process to replace one of its biggest IT services frameworks. But with just four months until the incumbent £600m vehicle expires, it may yet find itself in need of another exceptional extension to a big-ticket deal.
A prior information notice (PIN) for the new Technology Services framework went out late last month. The notice indicates that the government is seeking to put in place a deal allowing all public sector bodies in the UK to procure various IT services. The deal is split into 11 lots covering a range of support, security and other services and suppliers are being sought to "deliver local, regional, and national technology services".
"We are particularly looking for specialist suppliers who can provide the services under individual lots, as well as suppliers who can provide multiple services," adds the PIN.
The framework will replace the IT Managed Services vehicle which, following two one-year extensions to its initially agreed 24-month term, reaches the end of its four-year lifespan on 5 August. The worth of the outgoing deal was pegged at £600m. The new framework's spending pot is estimated to be between £50m and £70m, although market onlookers indicate they consider this projection to be a lot lower than what the contract will ultimately be worth to successful bidders.
Prior to tendering for the Technology Services contract, the Government Procurement Service (GPS) "will engage with suppliers to establish the most appropriate commercial models and contracting terms to deliver vest value". A supplier workshop is to be held in Norwich around the end of this month, with suppliers who are unable to attend that event invited to submit information for inclusion in the market engagement exercise up until 14 May.
If, in theory, a contract notice then goes out around the end of May, this would leave GPS with little more than two months to get the new vehicle in place before the expiring contract reaches the end of its life. In recent months some of the government has already had to seek exceptional approval to extend some of its largest hardware and software contracts beyond their EU-mandated four-year limits.
The IT Managed Services framework contains just a single lot and its 10-strong supplier roster comprises some of the tech services market's biggest names: Bull; Capita; Centerprise; CGI; Civica; Computacenter; Northgate; Phoenix; SCC; and Steria.
With the new contract being broken up into 11 lots, and the PIN rhetoric making clear it is seeking both local specialists and large outsourcers, the Technology Services framework should theoretically deliver on the government's oft-stated objective of opening up more procurement opportunities to SMBs.
Potential bidders have an opportunity to bid on lots covering the following areas: Lot 1 – helpdesk/service desk; Lot 2 – desktop support; Lot 3 – network management; Lot 4 – network and content security; Lot 5 – infrastructure, maintenance and support; Lot 6 – audit services and asset management; Lot 7 – IT infrastructure transition services and delivery; Lot 8 – service integration/service integrator; Lot 9 – platform support and maintenance; Lot 10 – disaster recovery/business continuity; Lot 11 – backup and data services.
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