The Crown Commercial Service this week said it would extend a major IT contract for 12 months without planned re-procurement, citing the pandemic.
The £125 million, government-wide framework (for hardware, software, applications and ongoing management of printing services) was due to tender this year.
The pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic meant attention was better focussed on urgent procurement to tackle the outbreak of the virus, it said, in a decision that may augur further government IT contract extensions.
IT Procurement Delay: A (Welcome) Legal Justification for the CCS
The CCS, on behalf of the Cabinet Office, said conditions in 2015 legislation — which allow modifications to existing contracts under special circumstances — had been met. Regulation 72(1)(c) Public Contracts Regulations 2015, notes:
“Contracts and framework agreements may be modified without a new procurement procedure [if] (i)the need for modification has been brought about by circumstances which a diligent contracting authority could not have foreseen.”
The CCS said in a tender notice that it “has taken the decision to extend existing framework agreements that were due for reprocurement for a period of 12 months”.
“This is to enable CCS resource to be diverted to procuring urgent requirements to deal with COVID-19 consequences and to relieve pressure on the supply chain while short staffed, to enable businesses to continue to deliver services and goods to customers.”
The framework the CCS referred to was a £125 million deal agreed with eight vendors in 2016: Canon, Capita, HP, Konica Minolta, Lexmark International, Vision, Xerox.
The 48-month agreement spanned provision of print and content management services throughout the UK “tailored to provide managed print strategies and content management solutions involving automation/optimisation.”
The eight winners of the outsourced procurement deal are contracted to provide “hardware, software, applications and ongoing management of the solution, as appropriate and consultancy services” the original 2016 tender notes.
CCS said on March 26 it “intends to deliver replacement framework agreements as quickly as possible after the initial COVID-19 impact.”