Sopra Steria gets £££££££s to manage cops' Oracle e-Biz suite in Oracle's cloud in Cleveland, UK

The bad guys looking after the good guys... or is that the other way round? Life's so complicated

Cleveland Police in northeast England has handed a £4.2m contract to incumbent IT integrator and outsourcing provider Sopra Steria to host and maintain its Oracle E-business Suite applications in Big Red's cloud.

The French IT services biz, which until recently ran the police service's IT operations, has won the three-year contract for managed services of the force's Oracle EBS and Capita Duty Management system.

Although the contract value was estimated at nearly £17m in a tender notice, a spokeswoman for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland said this had been published in error.

She explained the true contract value was £4.2m but offered no explanation as to why it had increased from the initial £2.5m published in April's competitive tender notice.

As part of its £175m outsourcing agreement signed in 2010, Steria (as it was then, before slamming into Sopra) upgraded Cleveland Police's Origin HR to Oracle EBS for HR, finance, and procurement. The contract also incorporated the Capita duty management system. The wider business process outsourcing element saw Steria running the control room and community justice department.

In a Decision Record Form dated from August 2020 [PDF], the police force said the version of EBS it used was "aged and will not be supported after 2021."

As the Sopra Steria outsourcing contract ended 30 September 2020, IT services were due to novate to the police and crime commissioners' office, along with responsibility for software licensing, support and hardware.

In the final months of its IT outsourcing agreement with the force, Sopra Steria was due to "complete a technical change where the current system has been upgraded and re-platformed to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure," the form said.

"A new contract is required to be put in place in advance of 30 September to ensure that Oracle EBS and Capita System are fully licensed and supported," it added. The agreement would include support and licensing, upgrades, and patching.

Although 61 suppliers expressed an interest in the contract, 17 cancelled their interest during the early procurement process for reasons unknown. Six suppliers submitted responses by 26 June deadline. Two of these had not submitted compliant responses, while two were compliant, but had quality scores below the 30 per cent threshold.

It was estimated Oracle licensing would be worth 33 per cent of the bid, while Capita licences would be 17 per cent. Oracle licensing was estimated at £368,000 per year, more than £1m over the three-year contract. The force was also set to carry out a license audit during the transition.

So Sopra Steria's outsourcing deal ended just after it re-platformed the application and it picked up a managed service arrangement to keep running it, all part of a "transparent and competitive procurement exercise", the spokeswoman said.

But maybe not everyone will be happy. The outsourcing decision made a decade ago attracted criticism as it was supposed to avoid job losses, but in 2012, Sopra Steria made 30 people redundant, a process Unison took exception to [PDF].

The union said contractual terms meant Cleveland Police was "responsible for picking up the bill for redundancies". Among other "issues" cited, Unison criticised the force over a "lack of transparency and evidence of saving made as a result of claims of 'commercial confidentiality'."

All the outsourcing services provided under the 10-year Sopra Steria deal have now been transferred back in-house, the spokeswoman said - all, that is, aside from the latest Oracle cloud service. ®

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