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SWAN-song: Scotland re-tenders WAN framework for up to £350m

Capita won current deal worth £325m to run public-sector networks until 2023

The Scottish government is re-tendering the deal giving public bodies access to wide-area network services in contracts that could be worth up to £350m.

Set to start from March 2023, the new deal will replace the existing Scottish Wide-Area network (SWAN) procurement arrangement that is supported by more than 90 public-sector organisations within the country, according to a tender notice. Around 6,020 sites are connected to the single broadband network, it said.

Although available to most public-sector bodies under the devolved administration, the procurement is led by NHS National Service Scotland, a non-departmental public body that provides advice and services to the NHS in Scotland.

The idea is to provide a single public services communications network infrastructure for Scotland and build on the cross-sector collaboration established over the duration of the existing SWAN framework contract.

The contract notice said the procurement supported the aims of the McClelland review of Scottish Public Sector ICT Infrastructure, which in 2011 found the public sector was lagging and there was "an opportunity to capture a multiplicity of benefits in radically changing how ICT is adopted and deployed."

The current SWAN framework is due to expire in April 2023 and participating authorities have agreed that the framework needs to be replaced before March 2023 to ensure continuity of networking services.

Initially available to participating SWAN members authorities, the procurement is expected to be extended to additional service requirements of the participating authorities including LAN, voice, and IoT services. Suppliers can express their interest now; a contract notice is set to be published on 21 September.

The main beneficiary of the current SWAN arrangement is Capita, which secured £11m in contract renewals from the framework in 2020, including Aberdeen City Council, Care Inspectorate, Creative Scotland, East Renfrewshire Council, Education Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

Britain's outsourcing bête noire won the deal to provide the Scottish public sector with a single shared network in 2014, together with Updata, in a deal worth £325m, beating both BT and a joint bidding team from Vodafone and Virgin Media. Initial participants in the framework were expected to generate revenues of £110m over the first seven years. As we wrote at the time, BT sued NHS Scotland in December 2013 when Capita/ Updata emerged the preferred bidder for SWAN, citing flaws in the tender process, with the framework held back until the following year. ®

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