The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has extended the application deadline for a big government framework, which a consultancy claims is because suppliers have been locked out due to the "massively broad" technology it requires.
The Vehicle Telematics framework was unveiled last year and the deadline for supplier applications was initially 9 December. But according to publicly available documents online, the deadline has now been moved to 3 February.
The framework will be worth between £10.8m and £24.3m over a two-year period. According to a contract notice, a range of vehicle-tracking devices are required by bodies across the public sector.
The framework is not split into lots, and the notice states that suppliers must be able to provide a range of equipment for a broad variety of uses.
"The vast majority of vehicles to be utilised under this framework agreement will be cars and light commercial vehicles," it said. "However, there will be a requirement for the supplier to provide data-recording devices and associated equipment which are suitable for fitting into other contracting authority assets such as: agricultural vehicles; construction equipment; plant and boats."
Roger Newman, senior partner at consultancy DeNove, said the breadth of the framework has put suppliers off, which might be why the application deadline has been extended.
"We have spoken to a number of specialist VAR telematics providers, all of whom have been unable to bid due to the massively broad nature of the mandatory requirements," he said.
"It is as simple as that. We had qualification meetings with two suppliers and one thought they could do it. We qualified out with two specialist providers and the third one, which thought it could do it, realised that you need to provide a key fob which would recognise an individual, so they said 'we can't do that' and stopped bidding. In a nutshell, [CCS has] made it so broad that very, very few specialist providers, or SMEs, would be able to bid for this.
"Realistically... there will be some specialist telematics VARs which can go for this, but that doesn't really offer best value for money."
He said splitting up the contract into lots would have made more sense, and pointed out the recently awarded Welsh IT Products and Services framework as a good example of how this ensures a range of suppliers can bid.
"If they'd lumped everything in together [in that framework] and said you have to be a Microsoft reseller, a Google reseller, an Apple reseller, and do every type of hardware under the sun, how many people would have bid for it?" he said. "They've effectively lumped everything in together [on Vehicle Telematics] and said they have to do every single thing. It is very, very odd."
CCS was not immediately available to comment.
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