Framework aimed at slashing council software costs

The government has launched a tender for a framework for the provision of local government software aimed at driving down prices through greater clarity over supplier charges.

The proposed framework, named Local Authority Software Applications (LASA) will be based on a catalogue-style arrangement, with suppliers required to provide details of how much they will charge for particular services.

The four-year framework will replace the current Local Government Software Application Solutions (LGSAS) framework, which comes to an end in July.

Terry Brewer, divisional director commercial, contracts and procurement at London Borough of Harrow and head of the London Heads of Procurement Network, has been instrumental in drawing up the framework.

He told “We are trying to make this a bit more of a catalogue based approach to provide a greater visibility of costs. We think suppliers should be able to nail down what they will charge for particular services. That has not been so easy under LGSAS.”

This approach has been chosen after concerns were raised that in some cases councils are being charged widely varying prices for the same services by the same suppliers.

Brewer said that he hoped smaller suppliers would be able to get places on the framework, and that it would help address some of the concerns raised last week by the Office of Fair Trading that competition in the local government ICT market is not working as well as it could.

The framework will be complementary to the G-Cloud framework, Brewer said. Whereas G-Cloud services are commodity-based with contract lengths up to a maximum of two years, LASA contracts will be business-critical and have contract lengths of more than three years.

Brewer said that the market for software as a service for local government is currently worth around £500 million a year and that eventually the bulk of these services could be provided through LASA.

The framework will be divided into the following lots:

  • Revenue and benefits systems;
  • Payment Processing & cash Receipting systems;
  • Environmental, planning, building control, trading standards and licencing systems;
  • Libraries systems;
  • Housing and property systems;
  • Social care systems;
  • Public health systems;
  • Civil enforcement systems;
  • Open government systems, interoperability and integration Services;
  • Democratic and citizen engagement systems;
  • Other local authority business systems including waste management, registrar, sports, recreation and GIS.

Suppliers will be required to provide software and related services, including design, development, installation and commissioning of systems, ongoing support and maintenance and some related business process services, as well as providing updates.

The tender document said that suppliers would also be required to provide open source systems, and to allow data sharing and interoperability.

It said: “Such flexibility may apply within a Lot, for example allowing a different supplier to integrate with your system to provide the user interface (UI) or workflow and / or may include functionality to enable other systems to connect to your system to enable data sharing and digital service delivery.”

Brewer said that a supplier open day had been held and that feedback from them had been positive.

Plans for the framework were drawn up by the Government Procurement Service in conjunction with local authority purchasing organisation consortium Pro5, the London ICT Programme and the Local Government Association.

Colin Marrs

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