The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is looking for innovative ICT solutions for its £1-67-billion UnITy programme to replace its existing long-term IT contracts.
Defra is looking to sign new contracts – Photo credit: Flickr, Sebastian Wiertz
Chief technology officer Chris Howes said that the department had held a series of events with suppliers to identify the issues Defra has with providing ICT services and prepare to procure new services.
The department currently has an IBM contract, while the Environment Agency has one with Capgemini, which expire in January 2018 and February 2017, respectively, and is looking to recruit new suppliers for its ICT work.
However, the programme, which is a crucial part of Defra’s wider transformation plans, was recently ranked amber-red by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, meaning it needs rethinking if it is to be successful.
The department’s assessment of the IPA rating said that it was related to “issues faced by the programme on resourcing, governance and detailed planning”.
It added that since September last year, the programme had established a full programme team, developed commercial and technical proposals and strengthened governance, and was now on-schedule to complete by June 2018.
As part of the moves to transfer over the systems, Defra is holding events with suppliers about areas that need improvement. Howes set out three areas that had been discussed recently: print services, requirements for hosting and application management and connectivity.
According to Howes, users were frustrated that they were unable to print from any office, but he noted that the supplier market had “moved on” since the existing contracts had been signed and that it was “inspiring” to hear the new ideas that are available for print services.
He said that the workshop on hosting was attended by 39 organisations, and that the suppliers had a good understanding and interest in the wider UnITy programme and how it fits in with Defra’s wider ICT strategy.
Interested companies should email UnITyCommercial@environment-agency.gov.uk, Howes said.