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UK.gov to upgrade buying tool after mega cockup downs £1bn deal

Not even good enough for government work

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Government Procurement Services is to refresh the hardware platform it uses to collate supplier tender submissions to prevent a repeat of the crash that downed a £1bn software and services framework.

As revealed by The Channel early this month, the Applications Development, Delivery and Support Services (ADDSS) agreement was suspended after resellers bidding for a place on it complained they were unable to upload documents because of a problem with hardware capacity.

This postponement came amid warnings that GPS was opening itself up for potential legal action, as suppliers were unsure if their full submissions were received and therefore if a proper evaluation of the data could take place.

A spokeswoman at GPS told us that ADDSS remains in limbo but that it is making improvements to the eSourcing tool provided by IBM Emptoris to avoid another embarrassing episode.

"The unusually high volume of information provided by suppliers bidding for the procurement caused hardware capacity problems in the eSourcing system being used to process the procurement," said the mouthpiece.

"Our main priority was to maintain the integrity of the procurement and ensure it delivers the best outcome for customers. It was the uncertainty around the quality and completeness of the bids that led to the decision to pause," she added.

Resellers claimed GPS this year moved tender applications off the Bravo Solutions procurement system and onto the eSourcing platform, built for the Home Office but not multiple government departments.

However GPS insisted "it was not the same version".

"The sourcing tool is widely used across the public and private sectors and we have successfully managed a number of large-scale procurements prior to and since the ADDSS procurement," she added.

In a bid to "prevent recurrence of these problems", GPS is working with IBM Emptoris on a "planned upgrade of available hardware" to boost system capacity and flexibility to balance the load usage across multiple servers.

It will also develop a "recovery process" to ease capacity constraints during time of high usage.

The new system should be installed by the middle of next month, the government buying body claimed.

"We are currently reviewing all existing and in-flight ICT frameworks to ensure they are aligned with strategy and that new procurements deliver the best value and innovation for both buyers and suppliers," she said.

The ADDSS procurement falls within this category, and as such GPS said it will advise "the way forward" following the completion of the review. It did not answer questions on when this will be.

Back in the summer the £4bn IT Hardware & Services agreement was hit by delays due the weight of bids from interested suppliers. ®

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