A freshly formed English council waves £18m at UK tech industry, asks: Can somebody design and run pretty much everything for us?

The IT services wish list is about what you'd expect from an 18-month-old

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Barely 18 months old, newly formed Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has offered £18m to private sector IT and consultancy firms, asking if they can take on, well, almost everything.

The unitary authority in England's south-coast county of Dorset is looking for a "strategic implementation partner" to help design its organisational model and build the IT to run it.

Like one of those comedy shopping lists that unfurls as the recipient thinks they have reached the end, the organisation seeks IT consulting, software development, computer-site planning consultancy, business analysis consultancy, information technology requirements review, accountancy, business management, HR, procurement, and business organisation services – and much, much more.

It also wants a single supplier to take on so many responsibilities that observers may wonder what the council might do if, heaven forbid, the relationship does not go according to plan.

Formed in April 2019 after the merging of Bournemouth and Poole unitary authority with the non-metropolitan district of Christchurch, BCP Council has been charged with integrating services across the organisations it inherited.

But the council, which serves a population of 395,331, said in a tender contract notice there has "always been a clear recognition that a more fundamental transformation is required to fully realise the opportunities that local government reorganisation can bring, as well as remove the complexity, duplication and therefore cost of the operating model that BCP Council has inherited as a result of the way that it came into being."

It is looking for a service partner to develop an "operating model, ways of working and technology architecture" and "identify a recommended operating model design and develop a high-level implementation approach." The supplier needs to be able to offer "management consultancy services, commercial consultancy services, technology implementation and project management consultancy services, strategic advice to senior stakeholders and additional resources to support Council capacity and capability."

However, there is no guarantee the lucky provider would get its mitts on the whole £18m. Jobs will be split into "work packages" to be commissioned individually from the supplier. "Whilst the value of the Strategic Partnership Agreement contract has been set at the figure [of £18m], this is not a guaranteed value," the tender document said.

The area has become known as something of a playground for the rich and famous. Its Sandbanks peninsula is the setting for some of the UK's most expensive houses outside of London, with one rumoured to be on sale for £11m.

The winning services provider will be hoping for similarly rich pickings. ®


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