MoJ signs up for £8m Amazon account

Department signs deal for access to business account 

The Ministry of Justice has awarded to Amazon an £8m deal to provide civil servants with access to a dedicated online buying portal for public sector customers.

Newly published procurement information reveals that the MoJ entered into a three-year deal with the tech firm on 2 March. The contract was awarded through a £300m framework agreement between Amazon and public-sector buying group YPO, through which the online retailer is contracted to provide a “centralised digital marketplace” that can be used by organisations across the public sector to buy a wide range of goods.

The MoJ deal will see “Amazon Business… provide access to permissible users to a B2B marketplace provider with a range offering of over 100,000,000 products for delivery to MOJ premises across the country,” the ministry said.

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There is little in the way of further detail on the engagement, although the attached call-off agreement reveals that the MoJ will now gain “use of a set of features, services, and functionality” available to business customers.

This could include special discounts and the option – “subject to satisfactory credit checks” – to pay via invoice, rather than upfront.

The YPO agreement with Amazon, which came into effect in March 2019, was awarded directly to the online retailer without a full competitive process.

Citing provisions made in the 2015 Public Contracts regulation, YPO said at the time that it had the right to “award public contracts by a negotiated procedure without prior publication where the supplies or services can only be supplied by a particular economic operator, because competition is absent for technical reasons”.

It added: “Following the publication of a (prior information notice) YPO only received one compliant expression of interest. The proposed contractor, being an established mature B2B marketplace provider with a range offering of over 1,000,000 products from thousands of sources, is both the only contractor capable of achieving the desired economies of scale required to bring all spend within one portal to generate significant cost benefits to YPO’s permissible users and the only viable contractor currently operating in the market for the products and service requirement requested.”

Through the framework, Amazon sells a wide range of goods to a comprehensive array of public-sector customers.

“This framework will be for the provision of a wide scope of supplies to be provided through a single, easy to access digital marketplace open to YPO’s permissible users,” the contract award notice said. “This includes, but is not limited to: office supplies; classroom, school, art supplies and materials; home kitchen, food and grocery; books; musical instruments; audio visual and electronics; higher education scientific equipment and lab supplies; clothing; [and] animal supplies, equipment and food.”


Sam Trendall

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