Framework delay regrettable but adds certainty

Phil Gibson, chairman of public services networks supplier body PSNGB, responds to the government’s extension of the current PSN connectivity and services frameworks due to delays in its replacement.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has announced that it is extending the current PSN Connectivity and PSN Services frameworks (PSN C and PSN S) as it responds to in excess of 850 clarification questions around the impending RM1045 Network Services Framework.

The original PSN C and PSN S frameworks were always set out as a 2+1+1 duration (providing the option to extend for an additional two years post the original two years) and today we have confirmation that CCS will be taking the second year extension.

By extending PSN C and PSN S, CCS has provided a degree of continuity and certainty to the market place by ensuring there is no possibility that customers would not be able to procure under a valid framework – and this is a good thing. However, what both suppliers and users really want is for the replacement Network Services Framework (RM1045) to be successfully completed on schedule.

It is CCS’ intention that Network Services will still go live on time in April 2015 and PSNGB maintains that despite the large number of clarification questions and consequent submission deadline extensions experienced, CCS is continuing to progress the optimum solution for suppliers and end users; creating a more flexible Framework and enhancing the choice of services and suppliers.

Pre the issue of the RM1045 tender, CCS actively engaged industry on multiple occasions. They have sought to structure RM1045 to allow for new and emerging technologies, to encourage innovation and to make it more flexible, allowing end users to purchase what they wanted in the way they wanted.  This is less well provided for by the current PSN frameworks.

It was this innovative approach to lot structures and a large number of suppliers wanting to get onto the framework which resulted in an unanticipated volume of clarification questions.

For those suppliers wanting to get onto RM1045 this may cause a degree of frustration. But, as stated it is CCS’ intention to see this framework complete on time. The worst scenario would be for RM1045 not to come to fruition, but at this stage this seems an unlikely outcome.

In retrospect, good intentions have led to unforeseen consequences, but this is no reason to criticise. CCS has tried to introduce a more flexible and innovative approach to procurement and it should be commended for this. The path of change and progress is often a rocky one; the extension of the PSN Frameworks provides some insurance during this change period, but this should not be a reason to stall.  

PSNGB is very supportive of the Network Services Framework and we believe that it will benefit both customers and suppliers.  The move to extend, subject to certain conditions, the PSN Frameworks is a sensible, pragmatic one that brings an assurance of continuity to the marketplace, but the first priority must remain the successful and timely completion of Network Services.

Colin Marrs

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