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Three London boroughs seek cloud service framework

Contract could be used throughout London

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Westminster city council has issued a pre-tender notice for a number of cloud-based corporate services that will initially be shared with two neighbouring boroughs, but could be extended throughout London.

As part of its strategic partnership with Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster has begun to look for an outsourced managed solution for a number of corporate managed services.

This will involve the creation of a four year framework for corporate services, including payroll, HR, asset management and business intelligence. It will replace arrangements with a number of service providers for the three boroughs.

David Wilde, chief information officer for Westminster, told GGC: "Each of the lots is being led by relevant people, and IT is there in all of them. We're not going for an ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution but a complete managed service, and expect the bidder to bring IT into it."

Westminster plans to be the first to procure from the framework, aiming to have a new HR service in place by spring 2012. It intends to procure from the other lots by early 2013.

Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham are expected to follow suit, although Wilde emphasised that they will make their own decisions on whether the contract is appropriate for the relevant services. "They are fully committed to taking what works on a value for money basis, but they won't want to follow through without knowing what the numbers look like," he said.

While he was unable to forecast a total value for the contract, as it will depend on the overall take-up, he said the business case estimates the combined value of the relevant services for the three boroughs at £30m, and that it could provide savings of £2m a year for each authority.

According to the Ojeu pre-tender document, this is part of Project Athena, which is aimed at encouraging London boroughs to use common processes and share cloud based business services. All boroughs will have access to the framework.

Wilde said that so far there have been expressions of interest from about 20 councils and public services in the city, and that while he doubts whether all of the capital's boroughs will take it up, he "would be happy" to get about seven involved in the first year of operation, and about 14 over the four years of the contract.

There are no plans for it to be available outside of London. "If we go beyond the London public sector other factors come into play which might slow down the market," Wilde said.

He added that he would be surprised if a single supplier won the deals for all four lots, but that it was not out of the question.

Wilde also acknowledged that an outsourcing deal such as this is likely to create some issues with in-house staff, but said "these are not as significant as some people think".

Westminster has previous experience of leading a London-wide procurement, having tendered early in 2010 for next generation network services for the city's local authorities. This led to a deal with Virgin Media which came into operation during the spring.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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