MoJ signs £60m deal to maintain 35 ageing apps across courts system

Contract was awarded to incumbent supplier CGI without competitive process as ministry claims that technology requires complex technical knowledge and finding an alternative provider would take up to two years

The Ministry of Justice has signed a £60m deal to ensure ongoing support for more than 30 ageing applications that are relied upon by the courts system.

Freshly published commercial information reveals that, at the start of next month, the MoJ will enter into a contract with CGI for the provision of “application maintenance and support services”. The deal – which will run for an initial term of 12 months, plus an optional extension of another year – represents an effective extension of an existing agreement with the IT services giant, which has worked with the ministry since 2015.

The latest contract was awarded without any competitive process as the MoJ believes that “no other supplier has the necessary technical knowledge and experience to provide the services… [and] even if it was theoretically possible that another supplier did… it is estimated to take a minimum of 18-24 months for a procurement to be run and any replacement suppliers to be able to deliver the services”.

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The services in question encompass the provision of support for about “35 business-critical applications the majority of which are used by HM Courts and Tribunal Service”, although some are also used in MoJ headquarters, according to the procurement notice.

“Most of the applications are classed as ‘heritage applications’ due to their age,” the notice added. “Many are business-critical case-management or case-progression systems used by the courts and are typically complex and bespoke. Applications may be removed from scope as they are retired or replaced under new supplier arrangements.”

Many of the apps are about 20 years, according to the MoJ, and “are difficult to maintain because of their age and complexity and the extent to which they have been changed over the years and require very specialist” expertise – which is possessed by very few people outside of CGI.

If the firm’s services are retained for another two years, its latest agreement with the MoJ is expected to be £60.3m. Almost half of this will be accounted for by “discretionary spend on potential project work”.

The procurement notice outlines the ministry’s intent over the coming months is to reduce its reliance on CGI and the ageing technology it is currently required to support.

“The contract enables the authority to terminate services at its convenience and partially and it is envisaged that a number of applications will be removed from scope over the term as they are retired/replaced and as in-house software delivery capability is developed,” it said. “The authority intends to commence a competitive procurement process for the maintenance/support of the remaining applications during the initial term.”

HM Courts and Tribunals Service is currently engaged in a broader Decommissioning and Legacy Risk Mitigation Programme, the aim of which is to replace and safely retire about 250 bespoke software tools currently used by the courts system across England and Wales.

Sam Trendall

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