Feeds

Becta's schools software scheme reported to EC

Small firm complains about Becta and big business

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

An advisor to Becta, the education technology quango, has complained to the European Commission about its procurement process for firms to provide online learning platforms and content to British schools.

Of 119 suppliers who expressed an interest last year in tendering to supply Learning Platforms - personalised, online learning environments for school children - under a European framework agreement, Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) admitted just 10 suppliers into the framework when it was awarded last week.

Crispin Weston, managing director of Alpha Learning, said none of the suppliers awarded with places on the framework met mandatory criteria established at the start of the procurement to ensure their software programs were interoperable with one another, and could also work with electronic learning materials from any source.

Weston told The Register that he helped draw up the criteria Becta used to select suppliers for the Learning Platform framework, but was forced to complain about the quango to the EC Competition Commission because it subsequently overlooked the criteria when it appointed framework suppliers.

"EC regulations demand that criteria for [bidding] companies be announced beforehand and then implemented objectively. The purpose is to prevent back-stairs deals," said Weston, who had not bid for a place on the Learning Platform framework because his firm was too small to satisfy BECTA's other criteria.

"Becta realised that if it enforced the criteria then no-one would win [the procurement]," he said, "so they didn't enforce it."

European procurement rules stipulated that a company must only appoint suppliers who met the criteria set out in the original invitation to tender, said Weston.

The UK Treasury's government procurement sheriff, the Office of Government Commerce, had advised Weston that Becta had "very likely" breached EC procurement regulations, Weston said in his letter to the EC competition police.

"The British government is supplying £40 million to Local Authorities to acquire learning platforms, with the strong recommendation that they select successful candidates from Becta's approved list. Schools wishing to use platforms not selected by their local authority are free to do so but must find the money from other budgets," said Weston's letter to the EC.

Becta had overlooked two criteria that had demanded that firms implement technical standards that would ensure their software was interoperable - that it would work with that of any other firm supplying similar programs or electronic learning materials.

Weston maintained that most, if not all, of the 10 suppliers awarded places in the framework had not implemented the interoperability standards in their software.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?