Government creates £1bn deal to buy direct from major software vendors

Long-term framework will cover a comprehensive range of back-office tools

The government is creating a £1bn-plus framework to allow organisations across the public sector to buy a comprehensive range of back-office software tools direct from major vendors.

The Crown Commercial Service has published a contract notice inviting bids for a procurement vehicle covering the supply of software licences and related support. The deal, which will not be split into subsections, will include publishers that can offer one or more of an array of back-office programs. 

CCS said: “There will be one lot covering the following: enterprise resource planning; human capital management; financial accounting; procurement; reporting; customer relationship management; workflow technologies; content services; service portal; integration software; [and] support and maintenance for these services.”

The framework, which will be worth an estimated £1.2bn, is due come into effect in April 2021 and will last for an initial term of two and a half years, with the option to extend this by a further 18 months.

The intent of establishing the contract is to allow government departments and the wider public sector to buy “directly from major vendors”. The framework will allow buyers to award deals to featured providers without any further competitive process – although the vehicle can also be used to launch secondary competitions.

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“Crown Commercial Service wishes to establish an appropriate contracting route for the provision of back-office software, to be used by central government departments and all other UK public sector bodies, including local authorities, health, police, fire and rescue, education and devolved administrations,” CCS said. “The Back Office Software framework contract will provide a route to market for organisations wishing to purchase software subscriptions and licence support for back office systems direct from the software vendor.”

Bids for a spot on the framework are open until 3pm on 10 December. CCS hopes to issue intention-to-award notices by the end of March 2021. 

While the major back-office software vendors such as Oracle, Salesforce and SAP already have a number of significant direct engagements with government, many departments and public sector bodies currently buy software and support from IT resellers or services providers – who will seemingly be shut out of this new framework.

Birmingham City Council, for example, is 14 months into a five-year £12.3m engagement with reseller Insight, which has been tasked with replacing the authority’s finance, HR, and ERP software. The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, last year awarded to Capgemini a £9.7m deal for Oracle ERP support. The French-headquartered tech services firm has also won a number of seven-figure software deals with NHS customers.

In 2017 the Home Office set out on a major overhaul of its back-office set-up, including work to bring together in a one platform ERP and payroll systems. The department chose to work with Accenture, which it awarded three separate contracts worth a cumulative £20m. The consultancy is also nearing the end of a three-year £3.5m deal to equip the Crown Prosecution Service with an Oracle ERP platform and deliver ongoing support.


Sam Trendall

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