Nuclear cloud: UK's reactor cleanup crew awards Softcat reseller deal for Microsoft licences, Azure services

What's another £33.6m when entire programme projected to cost £132bn?

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has awarded a £33.6m contract to London Stock Exchange-listed reseller Softcat for Microsoft software licences and Azure cloud services.

The NDA, which is responsible for cleaning up the UK's earliest nuclear sites safely, securely and, er, cost-effectively, has signed the five-year agreement to support its "transformational changes relating to Microsoft products and cloud services particularly around account management, training/upskilling, optimisation and cost management," according to a tender notice.

The annual budget for the NDA stretches to £3.2bn to clean up the UK's ageing nuclear reactor estate, £2.4bn of which is funded by the government.

The Softcat deal is under the umbrella of the Crown Commercial Services Technology Products and Associated Services Framework Agreement (also known as RM6068), Lot 3 Software and Associated Services. All the lots for that deal were tendered by the government in 2019, with a maximum price tag of £6.5bn, awarded in January 2020.

In April, Softcat was also one of 30 vendors to be named on a framework to compete for public sector contracts worth up to a potential £1.2bn for back-office software.

The NDA is in the middle of a tussle to demonstrate value for money. Its most recent estimate is that it will cost current and future generations of taxpayers £132bn to decommission the civil nuclear sites, with the work not being completed for another 120 years.

Among the challenges include the decommissioning of 10 former Magnox power stations, estimates for which are between £6.9bn and £8.7bn, around £1.3bn to £3.1bn more than its previous estimate, according to a November 2020 Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee report.

The committee also said the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy recognised that its "oversight of the NDA has been weak in the past" and welcomed steps the government is taking to "provide stronger oversight and improved governance." ®

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