Covid tests: UKHSA signs potential £18m long-term deal for supply chain platform

Public health agency retains Accenture on deal that could run until mid-2024

Credit: Dronepicr/CC BY 2.0

Government’s new national public-health agency has signed a long-term deal worth up to £18m for a software platform to manage the supply chain for coronavirus tests.

The contract, which came into effect on 1 December and runs for an initial period of 19 months, has been awarded to IT consulting firm Accenture. The deal covers the support and management of technology from Oracle, as well as that of barcode management specialist RF Smart.

Over the past year, both Accenture and Oracle have won a series of shorter-term deals covering the provision of supply chain-management technology and related services to the NHS Test and Trace programme. This includes a six-month £1m contract with the consultancy that came into effect in September and was intended to address the need for additional IT systems and support needed to fulfil an “emergency ramp-up” in the supply of PCR testing kits.

The supply-chain software platform currently used by the UK Health Security Agency to manage the supply of coronavirus test kits across England is currently the “pandemic MVP (minimum viable product) solution”, according to the new contract with Accenture.

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The agency – which was launched three months ago to replace and subsume Public Health England, as well as the Test and Trace scheme and the Joint Biosecurity Centre – wishes to “uplift the current… solution into the UKHSA strategic supply chain”.

Over a transition process due to conclude by the end of March, Accenture will be asked to “build on the current MVP platform to deliver a strategic solution for a fully integrated Test supply chain service, utilising Oracle Cloud to manage test kit manufacturing,  raw materials and other products managed in systems and their logistics and distribution”.

Over time, the tech advisory firm will then “deliver a programme of upgrades and enhancements to Oracle and [barcode system] RF Smart capabilities in response to urgent policy demand to support the government’s response to the Covid-19 emergency”.

“To support the supplier meeting the buyer needs, [UKHSA] shall be responsible for: procuring the Oracle and RF Smart elements of the solution; and, where required, procuring additional hardware and software licences and services necessary for the supplier to provide the solution,” the contract added.

A minimum of £10.2m will be spent via the deal, rising to a potential total of £18.2m if two optional six-month extensions are awarded – which would take the closing date of the engagement up to 30 June 2024.

The contract identified “features and enhancement for development, architecture support, testing services, [and] cutover and implementation support” as the primary services to be delivered by Accenture over the lifespan of the contract.

Job roles to be provided by the supplier will include: delivery leads; scrum masters; Oracle architecture leads; technical design leads; functional and design consultants; developers and functional testers; and implementation leads.


Sam Trendall

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