IT suppliers are being sought for a massive digital IT framework worth up to £350m, but questions have been raised as to whether the work could have gone through existing digital schemes.
The Mayor's Office for Police And Crime (MOPAC), acting as the Metropolitan Police Service, is looking to establish a Digital Policing framework which will last two years.
IT services including consulting, software development, internet and support will be required as part of it, and other police services in the country will have access to it, according to a recently published tender document.
"The framework will establish a panel of solution providers from which MPS and the other contracting authorities will procure end-to-end digital solutions that solve business problems mainly through mini-competitions, with direct awards in specifically defined circumstances," said the tender. "The framework will include providers capable of delivering complex, multi-phased, technologically advanced end-to-end digital solutions.
"Solution providers will be expected to bring knowledge, experience and functional expertise, which can be drawn upon flexibly to deal with and deliver digital services solutions as a part or as a whole project that meets MPS and the other contracting authorities' requirements."
One government IT consultant, who choose to remain anonymous, questioned why such work is not going through the existing Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework.
"The NAO report in 2013 highlighted that police forces seem culturally averse to collaboratively working with other public sector bodies to procure in a manner that assures best value for money," he said. "It certainly seems odd that the Met would go down this route of establishing yet another framework when many of the services that they are procuring could easily be sourced via the Digital Marketplace - G-Cloud or DOS or a combination of both."
In a statement, the Met did not address the question specifically. But the tender explains: "This framework is designed to enhance the MPS' current solution delivery supply chain. It will fill the gap between other government frameworks (like G-Cloud) and lengthier, higher-value, more complex procurements which would require the formal OJEU process, by providing a rapid route to market while still maintaining ongoing competitiveness."
The statement the Met sent to CRN read: "We are bound by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, therefore suppliers have been asked to express an interest via the EU Supply Bluelight Portal if they wish to bid for this tender. Nearly 160 people attended our market engagement event in October and we have received expressions of interest from nearly 100 potential bidders, so we are confident that this framework is of interest to a cross-section of suppliers within the ICT market. We aim to award the framework to successful suppliers in the first quarter of 2017."
The Cabinet Office - where the Digital Marketplace sits - said in a statement: "CCS frameworks can be used in many cases to gain substantial savings for the taxpayer and will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police as one of our key stakeholders in other areas of procurement."
The tender adds that the Met will look to commission around 10 projects a year through it - two large, four medium-sized and four small.
The services the Met is seeking in the framework include: project management, solution proposals, detailed solution design, build [and] development, business and technical analysis, environment management and third-line support, said the tender.
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