Feeds

Public sector IT buyers 'hogtied by mess of red tape'

Purchasing rules overlap sparks channel handwringing

Security for virtualized datacentres

Blighty's public sector IT bean counters face a bewildering mess of overlapping tech purchasing bureaucracy, channel sources have warned.

Three wide-reaching frameworks that direct government tech spending will end up running in parallel into next spring, potentially confusing purse holders.

Of the three schemes, one is the £4bn IT Hardware & Solutions (ITH&S) framework, led by the Government Procurement Service (GPS), which put out an Invitation To Tender on 31 January. Businesses will be told at the start of next month whether they have made it onto the list of approved suppliers, and the two-year pan-government framework will commence on 1 June.

In a Q&A document accompanying the tender, sent to El Reg by a bidder, GPS confirmed that ITH&S will directly replace ESPO Contract 113, an IT purchasing framework that served local councils and occasionally veered into education. The ESPO contract is set to expire on 1 June following a three-month extension from March.

However, a second framework, the Commoditised IT Hardware and Software (CITHS) deal - which covers nearly all corners of public life with specific focus on health, local authorities and some central government organisations - will continue until April 2013 when its future will be reviewed.

And a third framework, Sprint ii, will also run in parallel until April next year. This is a HMRC agreement run by GPS that provides kit to central government but controversially had made inroads into police authorities - a move that is being reviewed amid potential plans to set up a police procurement organ.

"It will be very messy," said one firm bidding for place on the ITH&S list. "Customers will inevitably be confused about which framework they should be using."

ITH&S has been crafted to serve most parts of public sector too, playing to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude's agenda of pulling together government purchasing power. The deal could be extended by another year on two further occasions, and covers 12 lots, ten of which are geared toward Cabinet Office tech gear specifications and two for non-standard desktop and networking kit.

Only three suppliers will be certified on seven of the lots and vendors have already warned that reseller involvement in ITH&S may be limited as the cut-throat pricing restricts available margins.

The first ten lots will also be subject to e-auctions that should drive further margin erosion in the race to base level pricing.

The Coalition wants to spend up to one quarter of government budgets with SMEs by 2015 but ITH&S covers the supply of commodity kit, and the small biz sector will struggle to provide any innovation.

The pre-requisites of the deal also preclude SME participation - resellers need to demonstrate they've sold 56,500 desktops and 14,800 laptops in the last twelve-month period.

GPS no longer has a press office - it was shed in a round of cuts - but was endeavouring to respond to questions at the time of writing. ®

The ITH&S lots out for tender

  • Lot One - client device hardware and services - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Two - laptop - four suppliers expected
  • Lot Three - tablet/slate - five suppliers expected
  • Lot Four - monitor - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Five - thin client - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Six - servers - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Seven - storage - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Eight - switches - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Nine - printers - five suppliers expected
  • Lot Ten - standard peripherals - three suppliers expected
  • Lot Eleven - non-standard desktop - five suppliers expected
  • Lot Twelve - non standard infrastructure - eight suppliers expected

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.