MoD extends procurement to fire services

Expected to cut phone bills by 20%

The Ministry of Defence is rolling out a shared service procurement initiative that is expected to shave up to 20 per cent a year off Fire and Rescue Authority phone bills.

The MoD has extended its IT and communications procurement

agreement for a further five years. It announced that it will extend the deal to 47 FRAs across the UK.

The Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service (DFTS) private finance agreement with BT has already saved the MoD £40m a year worldwide over the last 10 years.

Firebuy, the FRA procurement agency set up in 2005, will use the DFTS to purchase communication solutions at reduced costs. This will include secure managed fixed line telephony, managed mobile services, flexible and home working support, and video and audio conferencing. BT will also offer FRAs 24/7 support.

"As part of the development of this shared service agreement, BT conducted a study of 10 FRAs to calculate potential cost savings available across English and Welsh fire authorities," said BT in a statement.

"The study found that the DFTS agreement could save in the region of £400,000 on fixed telephony alone, almost 20 per cent of their total annual spend."

However, only two FRAs – West Midlands and Dorset – have signed up to the deal so far.

Mark Quartermaine, BT global services managing director, government services, told GC News: "We are looking to sign up as many FRAs as possible. The higher the volume the more savings we can offer."

Rear Admiral Rees Ward of the MoD said: "There are great operational synergies between the UK Fire and Rescue and the MoD.

"Communications are critical in an environment where every second counts and, through DFTS, the MoD and BT have created a framework that delivers the level of support required by the fire service and other government departments.

"DFTS has great expertise in managing some of the challenges faced by FRS, such as multiple networks and the need for interoperability, and I believe FRAs will benefit greatly from this experience."

Firebuy has also set up another arm that will manage and procure insurance requirements for FRAs. It will be up and running on 1 July.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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