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UK government names suppliers on £3.5bn contact centre, shared services, and outsourcing framework

The usual suspects

The commercial wing of the UK government has named the winners on a £3.5bn framework to provide public-sector contact centres, including enterprise and infrastructure software to support them.

Reading like a rogues' gallery of repeat offenders, the list features Capita, G4S, Serco, and Accenture, which take their place on a framework designed to provide "outsourced contact centre services, shared services and operational business process services," according to a tender document from the Crown Commercial Service.

The framework is set to be used by the UK's central government and wider public-sector organisations, including local authorities, the NHS, non-departmental government bodies, and police, as well as third-sector organisations such as charities.

The deal is split into two lots: one for contact centres, worth up to £1.5bn, and a second for business services, worth up to £2bn.

The procurement dates back to a prior information notice published October 2019 while the UK was still formally part of the EU. That document signalled that total spending through the framework might be as much as £5bn and said a contract notice would be available in August 2020.

In fact, the contract notice did not appear until April 2021 with the maximum on offer shaved to £3.5bn.

Outsourcing on this scale has proved a tricky business in government. In 2006, Accenture walked away from a £2bn NHS deal as part of the disastrous National Programme for IT. Capita-run GP back-office services have been dubbed an "unmitigated disaster." Serco bagged a £322m contract for the NHS Test and Trace pandemic response but struggled to share data with local authorities. Meanwhile, G4S and Serco were involved in a prisoner tagging scheme blasted as a "catastrophic waste of public money" by MPs.

Still, we're sure this time it will be different, eh readers? ®

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