FCDO signs £10m deal for support of government’s Secret IT system

Supplier appointed to two-year contract to provide services to government-wide Rosa service

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has signed a £10m contract with an IT firm to support the government’s global digital system for accessing Secret-level documents and information.

The UK arm of Danish firm Netcompany entered into an engagement with the FCDO on 10 January. The deal, which runs for an initial term of two years and is valued at £9.8m, will see the IT firm provide “technical support services for the Rosa platform”, according to a newly published procurement notice.

First launched in 2018, Rosa was created to provide a service through which registered users in settings such as embassies, diplomatic missions, and nuclear power facilities can securely access restricted information. The delivery of the global network was led by the Cabinet Office in a six-year project costing £126.5m, according to government records.

Since its launch, the network – and the thousands of desktop and laptop computers it includes – have been managed on behalf of the Cabinet Office by the specially created Rosa Service Organisation, which is part of the FCDO and is housed at the foreign ministry’s East Kilbride offices.

Other than the price, contract length and the very brief outline of the services included above, no other information or documentation was included with the procurement notice. In response to an enquiry seeking additional details, the FCDO simply pointed PublicTechnology back to the notice, and declined to comment further.

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The Government Cyber Security Strategy published a year ago appears to provide the most-recent update on the rollout and use of Rosa, which the document describes as “a government IT capability and service that enables collaborative working up to Secret-[level classification] with the very latest technologies”.

Representing the middle tier of security classification – between ‘Official’ and ‘Top Secret’ – the designation of ‘Secret’ is applied to “very sensitive information that justifies heightened protective measures to defend against determined and highly capable threat actors; for example, where compromise could seriously damage military capabilities, international relations or the investigation of serious organised crime”, according to government guidance. 

“Since its launch, [Rosa] has been adopted by an increasing number of users for an increasing number of use cases, reaching over 12,000 users and 74 departments in 2021,” the cyber strategy said. “Government will build on this success by continuing to invest in Rosa to ensure that it continues to meet the growing needs of its users. As well as making it significantly easier to handle government information at the appropriate classification, the increasing provision of Rosa will mean it is less likely that information is under-classified, making it much more difficult for adversaries to access and exploit. The introduction and expansion of government’s Secret IT platform has also transformed how government manages more sensitive information and enhanced collaboration across classifications.”

The deal to support the global network is the latest in a range of major government contracts won by Netcompany. In the last few months, deals signed by the Danish firm include two £4.5m engagements: one with HMRC to support the National Transit Computer System; and another with the Home Office to deliver “virtualisation and federation” work related to the department’s immigration and migration services. 

The IT outfit previously won millions of pounds in deals during the height of the pandemic to support to delivery of the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app and the Covid Pass vaccine certification system.


Sam Trendall

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