MoJ opens wallet, offers £300m for desktop services

Department's infrastructure and devices up for tender

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is planning to spend up to £300m on end user computing and desktop services as part of a future IT sourcing plan.

The tender is for the delivery of effective "infrastructure and devices" across the MoJ's estate, including the supply, management and maintenance of the end computer environment, such as desktops, laptops, workplace productivity applications including email and word processing, peripherals and storage.

The desktop services contract will cover MoJ headquarters, prisons, courts and tribunals centres, probation services centres and a range of other locations, including up to 2300 nationally.

It also includes the delivery of common enabling services such as authentication and directory services, and local network infrastructure. The MoJ plans a five-year deal with an option to extend by two further 12-month periods.

Late last year, the MoJ started looking for an IT services framework that would be one of the biggest deals in government and effectively duplicate arrangements elsewhere in Whitehall.

It published a pre-tender in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) asking for supplier feedback on the possibilities in a range of technology areas, taking in hardware, software, communications equipment, networks and installation services.

According to the latest OJEU notice, the MoJ's current major ICT contracts were negotiated prior to the creation of the MoJ. As a result, the contracts are broadly aligned to business units (e.g. National Offender Management Service, HM Courts & Tribunals Services, MoJ headquarters) rather than supporting economic, standard and integrated services across the department. These legacy contracts are due to expire in the next few years.

The Future IT Sourcing Programme (FITS) has been established to implement a service tower operating model for the delivery of ICT services across the MoJ and to procure the necessary replacement contracts that support the tower model.

A separate procurement exercise for a Service Integration and Management (SIAM) provider for the MoJ began in February with an estimated contract value between £75m and £125m.

The MoJ has said it does not plan to place any specific constraints on the number or combination of contracts for which any supplier may bid in this and subsequent competitions. However, the successful bidder for the desktop and end user computing (EUC) services contract will be asked to demonstrate that appropriate 'ethical walls' are in place between the parts of the organisation responsible for the delivery of EUC services and those parts that may be responsible for the delivery of services in other service towers.

Both the MoJ and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office plan to award contracts to SIAM providers that can successfully demonstrate the ability to integrate services and manage a number of tower service providers that typically provide one or more commoditised services such as data hosting, LAN/WAN provision, applications management and support and some security related services.

In practice, those familiar with the MoJ procurement believe the SIAM process is likely to run slightly ahead of the EUC procurement because the SIAM provider will have to manage and support the chosen desktop services provider.

According to John Jones, co-founder of strategic sales architects Landseer Partners, the SIAM approach shows that the UK public sector is now requesting the same oversight that has long happened in the construction industry, with departments looking to award contracts to managing agents to help deliver and manage critical ICT services back to departments and agencies. Suppliers are, however, unlikely to bid for both SIAM and EUC contracts.

"Any provider that goes for SIAM and EUC will have to put in place some very high and effective ethical walls. The likelihood is that SIAM and EUC providers will need to be different because otherwise having the same supplier looking after both could be perceived as akin to marking your own homework. Although it is an open procurement, the MoJ may prefer to have separate 'apples and oranges' bidding for the two procurements," he said.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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