DHSC picks £50m long-term IT partner to support cloudy future

DXC to replace Atos as core supplier

Credit: Pxhere

The Department of Health and Social Care has signed a contract worth up to £50m with a new long-term IT partner tasked with supporting a future in which the department aims to deliver more services internally and make increased use of cloud platforms.

Since January 2012, the DHSC has worked with French IT firm Atos via the Information Management Services 3 (IMS3) contract; after several extensions, the engagement – through which about £140m has been spent – is finally due to conclude in October 2022.

In February 2021, the department invited bids from suppliers for a new long-term contact, dubbed IMS4. The deal was intended to reflect the ambitions of a technology strategy, set out in 2016, in which the DHSC outlined its intent to adopt cloud systems, bring some IT operations back in house, and diversify its supplier base.

“[Since then] a number of services have been transitioned back into DHSC and managed by our cloud team,” the notice said. “Our aim is to continue our transition to the cloud where possible, standardise and rationalise the number of solutions that we offer, and run them in collaboration with our selected partner. We will deliver a new way of working that is underpinned by a clear operating model that defines roles, responsibilities and the flow of work between teams.”

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DXC has been chosen as the DHSC’s new partner; the US IT services giant signed a contract with the department on 17 December, newly published commercial documents indicate. The deal will run for an initial term of five years, during which about £36.2m will be spent. Optional extensions could see the engagement prolonged to July 2029; this would take the total value of the deal to £49m.

The contract – which runs to 1,149 pages – outlines eight core areas in which DXC will deliver services: end-user computing; service desk; managed print; IT operations centre; security operations centre; networks; cloud hosting; and managing service requirements that cut across functions and suppliers.

The contract also specifies three areas where the DHSC believes it will have new service requirements in the coming months and years: virtual desktop infrastructure; bring your own device programmes; and print-at-home functionality for staff.

The contract said that, in setting its new tech strategy, the department “has aligned its approach with GDS and NCSC requirements”.

“[The DHSC] will follow best practice by strengthening in-house capabilities for aspects that are differentiating or strategically important and outsource foundational services,” it added. “[It proposes to integrate services so that it can provide joined up, user centric, flexible and effective service delivery through its various supplier contracts and partnerships. The investments in the core partnerships through which foundational services are provided will on a long-term basis to enable greater leverage of benefits. There is a continual drive for improvement throughout the IMS4 contract.”

Alongside the use of DXC and other suppliers in discrete service areas, the department’s work to increase capabilities of its own IT staff will include “strengthening the capability for service management… architecture control… [and] commercial and financial control, [and] enhancing IT governance”.


Sam Trendall

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