$50m+ contract for crime-fighting IT system won by Fujitsu after no one else bid
Japanese giant will stop making mainframes four years later
Fujitsu has been awarded a renewed contract for support and maintenance of the aging UK Police National Computer (PNC) after no other companies tendered for the work.
The contract awarded to Fujitsu Services in London is worth £48 million ($56.6 million), began at the start of April, and covers a four-year period until the end of March in 2026.
According to Home Office documents, the contract was awarded last year and is listed as a "Single Tender Action," indicating that it is a direct contract with Fujitsu as sole supplier. This procedure can be used for procurements below a particular contract value threshold. It appears that the Home Office found no other bidders for the work.
Fujitsu told us that it had not announced the contract win as it had not been given permission by the customer to release any details.
The PNC is sited at a datacenter in Hendon, North London, and is based on a Fujitsu BS2000/OSD SE700-30 mainframe, but this is technology originally developed by German engineering outfit Siemens inherited by Fujitsu when it acquired the data processing division of that company.
It was the subject of controversy last year when an error led to the accidental loss of 413,000 records of police evidence from the system, the result of a scripting error in code designed to weed out records targeted for deletion, although the lost data was eventually recovered.
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The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also issued a report critical of the UK government towards the end of last year, warning that it had no clear plans for how it intends to replace ageing legacy systems such as the PNC, which has been in operation since the mid-1970s.
The National Law Enforcement Data Service (NLEDS), which is being designed to replace both the PNC and the intelligence-sharing Police National Database (PND), was supposed to be up and running in 2020, but this has been delayed by at least five years with an estimated cost overrun of more than £400 million, according to the PAC.
The UK's National Audit Office (NAO) warned last year that the Software AG database used by the PNC is only supported on the Fujitsu mainframe system until December 31, 2023, although the Home Office has an option to extend the contract for this support for a further 12 months, stating that if NLEDS was not ready by then, the PNC system might need to be moved to a supported platform or run unsupported.
Another issue is that key staff with the specialist skills and experience to keep the PNC operating are approaching retirement age and it isn't clear who will replace them, the NAO warned.
Fujitsu earlier this year announced the end of the road for its mainframe systems, stating that it will cease manufacturing and selling mainframes by 2030, while support services will continue for five years beyond this. ®