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IBM Handed £25 Million DWP Contract Extension, Without Competition

Bulk of applications modernised or retired, but stragglers remain...

By claudia glover

IBM has won another competition-free contract extension at the heart of government  — this time in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) where Big Blue supports a “complex technology stack of legacy applications, written in outdated software languages” that underpins four critical applications. 

The DWP runs one of Europe’s largest public sector technology estates. It contracted IBM under the “Application Deployment” (ADEP) project on September 23, 2011 for a seven-year term — already extended once, in 2018.

The latest £25 million extension (2021-2024) again went straight to IBM, as “significant upgrading would be extremely difficult without existing knowledge of the solution”, the DWP said, adding that extending the contract will “mitigate the high risk of disruption to the critical public services these applications support.”

The contract comes a month after IBM won another competition-free £8 million extension to continue running the UK’s air command and control system; described by the MOD as “aging with significant obsolescence issues in the core system”.

Read More Here: “Significant Obsolescence Issues”: IBM Lands MOD Extension for Aging UK Air Control System

Some 49 DWP applications will have been removed from the original ADEP contract by the date of extension, “due to decommissioning, in-source or replacement by new digital services” the DWP said in the contract notice, with significant progress having been made broadly at modernising applications and their supporting stack. 

(In June the DWP announced that it had successfully shifted its Job Seeker’s Allowance Payment System (JSAPS) from a mainframe to an X86 architecture running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux — a mammoth task involving reams of legacy code. That project, supported by company Advanced, spanned 6.3 billion records, 7.2 million lines of code, 29,592 batch processes, 50,000 end users and 54 databases.)

The four applications that IBM will continue to support meanwhile are:

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  • Customer Information System (CIS)
  • Provider Referrals and Payments (PRaP)
  • Bank Liaison and Automation and Customer Contact (BLACC_
  • Fraud Referral and Interventions Management System (FRAIMS)

A change of contractor would cause “significant inconvenience and substantial duplication of costs for the Department” the DWP noted.

“The extension period is needed to ensure the Department can… continue its programme of retiring these end of life applications.”

An option to shift the existing service in-house and then transition again to a new digital solution “would cause significant inconvenience and substantial duplication of costs for the Department”, the DWP concluded, after assessing that option.

The earlier Job Seekers’ migration involved converting untyped data with COBOL computational items and EBCDIC characters into equivalent ASCII data, and full byte-by-byte reconciliation between the original database and the go forward database to ensure database conversion issues were resolved before cutover.

See also: DWP Wraps Up Mammoth Mainframe to x86 Migration

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