Government Property Agency seeks £10m partner for GovPrint Cloud service

As part of a plan to deploy interoperable printing options for use across government departments, the Cabinet Office property unit has launched the first of two complementary print procurement exercises

The Government Property Agency is seeking to appoint new partners to a pair of multimillion-pound contracts to support a significant expansion of the government-wide printing service.

GovPrint – which is currently available at just a handful of government hubs – is intended to offer departments a centralised pay-as-you-go-style service for printing, copying, and scanning. Working under a mandate from the Civil Service Operations Board (CSOB), the Government Property Agency (GPA) is deploying GovPrint as part of wider suite of cross-department common tech services – including shared audiovisual tool, GovWifi connectivity, and the GovPass security pass system.

According to recently published commercial documents, GPA’s existing overarching contract to support the delivery of GovPrint services – which was awarded to Xerox in September 2022, for an initial four-year term – is “limited to supporting around 2,000 devices”.

“For context, there are an estimated 33,000 devices across the civil service estate that the CSOB has mandated must be supported by GovPrint,” says a GPA statement of requirements. “The number of devices that GovPrint could support outside of this mandate – across local government and central government, [and] out of scope of the CSOB – is expected to be significantly more.”

The property unit, which operates as an arm’s-length body of the Cabinet Office, is seeking to put in place two new commercial agreements: one covering cloud-based software-as-a-service print offerings; and another for devices and other hardware-related services.

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The cloud software deal – worth up to £9.75m over a potential nine-year term – is already open for bidding. The hardware element, meanwhile, is set to be awarded as a new and dedicated lot of an existing Crown Commercial Service framework for print and related services – thus enabling the use of products from multiple suppliers.

According to the contract notice seeking bids for the cloud provision element, the service to be delivered will constitute “a shared cloud print management service for its future authority hubs, other authority locations and non-authority locations”.

“This approach enables the authority to have a single cloud solution that devices from multiple print suppliers connect to, to support interoperability between devices from multiple suppliers,” the notice adds.

The chosen provider will be appointed for an initial term of three years, plus up to six further discrete one-year extensions. Bidding is open until 31 July, with GPA expecting to enter into a contract with the winning bidder in the autumn.

The agency’s specification document reveals that the two-pronged procurement plan for expanding the government-wide print service forward came having “reviewed the options for the ongoing delivery of GovPrint beyond the current contract”. 

“The aim was to define a strategic solution that would allow the Authority to deliver GovPrint over a longer time frame while also providing a fully interoperable service,” the specification says. “The current model of selecting a new GovPrint supplier every three or four years will lead to multiple GovPrint services that are not interoperable. The authority’s long-term goal has been to create a ‘GovPrint ecosystem’ of interoperable services.  This would allow the deployment of interoperable services from multiple suppliers that would enable users to access print services across all suppliers’ systems.” 

The document adds: “The authority completed a market-engagement exercise to understand whether this approach could be supported. The general consensus was that this would be technically possible but could not be delivered within the required timescales. Therefore, The Authority’s selected strategic approach will be to split the GovPrint service into two components: cloud; and devices… this approach would use the single GovPrint cloud to provide interoperability between devices from multiple hardware manufacturers.”

Sam Trendall

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