The Police ICT Company has paused a procurement process to find a "partner" that will oversee tech purchases and administer contracts on behalf of forces across the UK – a contract said to be worth up to £500m.
A tender was published on the Office Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in November that stated the organisation was seeking a master reseller to "establish, operate and manage a network" of suppliers.
This included VARs – value-added reseller, for the uninitiated, an abbreviation for marketing purposes because nobody wants to be a bog-standard box shifter – "software licensing specialists, OEMs and ISVs".
The estimated timeframe for the contract was set at 120 months and estimated as worth up to £500m excluding VAT. All tenders were due to have been completed by 21 December 2018.
However, all these months later and it appears that things didn't quite work out according to plan.
A spokesbod for Police ICT Company said:
The company has determined that further work is needed to reflect on the large volume of change happening in policing and within the company, and its far-reaching impact, before committing to a relationship on the scale proposed.
The company has begun developing an alternative model together with its policing and national partners.
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The use of cloud services, something the Police ICT Company highlighted to us as a strategic priority in 2016, was not mentioned in the tender, and it is possible a recalibration of procurement is in the wings, though that seems like an oversight on behalf of the tender strategists.
Resellers questioned the need for the tender as the Police ICT Company was set up to negotiate and run tech contracts on behalf of 43 forces and was then itself outsourcing that role.
One public sector boss at a large supplier, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, said individual forces use Crown Commercial Services to buy tech and the Home Office has itself centralised police purchasing.
Back in January, the Police ICT Company formally revealed its services to UK policing bodies. These included: helping to set the direction of tech in the sector; source the deal; and assuring the delivery.
The Police ICT organisation was the brainchild – possibly a bad choice of words – of current Brit prime minister Theresa May, back in 2011 when she was still Home Secretary. At the time she said cops needed to be "at the heart of defining what systems and services" needed to be used then. The Spring 2012 launch date passed and it wasn't until three years later that the Police ICT biz launched.
The initial head, Martin Wyke, told The Reg that outsourcing would "play a part" in their plans to chop the £1bn-a-year police IT bill, but he shied away from an upheaval of IT systems.
Ian Bell was brought in during February 2018 to head up Police ICT and then embarked on a "formative re-set and re-brand" of the organisation.
Sorting out police ICT is a tough job, and, seemingly, no one has cracked it yet. ®