Government Outlines £500m Framework For Education IT

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Government to pump loads of money into educational IT, covering mobile devices, networks and more

The Government Procurement Service (GPS), working with the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education Funding Agency (EFA), is to establish a £500 million framework agreement for the provision of IT infrastructure by educational bodies.

In a prior information notice published in the official journal of the European Union, GPS said the framework would be put in place for the use of local authorities, regional broadband consortia, maintained schools, free schools, academies, further education colleges and other educational bodies. The framework will replace the Becta IT services framework from October 2010.

Mobile connectivity included

The agreement is to cover design, specification, supply, integration, implementation and testing, training, support and maintenance, as required by customers, GPS said. Providers should be capable of providing a range of infrastructure environments, from local installation at an institution through to remotely hosted Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), according to the prior notice.

g-cloud government westminster big ben © Shutterstock QQ7Providers should be able to handle both new-build situations and legacy ICT environments requiring integration and repurposing of existing equipment.

The agreement will cover hardware, software, networks, peripheral equipment and audiovisual equipment, as well as mobile devices and mobile connectivity. Fixed broadband connectivity is not, however, covered by the framework, with customers expected to make separate arrangments for this.

GPS, DfE and EFA are to hold a market engagement event in August to prepare for future procurement, providing organisations with an opportunity to provide input through group sessions.

“During the event DFE and Education Funding Agency (EFA) will talk about the features expected to be part of the solution and how they would best work with suppliers to achieve these,” GPS said in the notice. “Some of these requirements will be based on feedback obtained from a range of key stakeholders prior to the event.”

Shift to the cloud

The government has made an effort to shift procurement to the cloud with its G-Cloud framework, and while spending through G-Cloud has grown, it remains small compared to what is spent elsewhere – with spend passing the £25m mark in the past few weeks.

On the occasion of G-Cloud’s first birthday in February of this year, G-Cloud’s programme director and others admitted a shift in the government’s mind-set was needed for the project to be truly successful.

“It’s essential we adopt a Cloud First policy, pushing cloud from the top down,” said Alastair Mitchell, chief executive and co-founder of Huddle, which has won more contracts than any other supplier over the framework. “Old habits die hard but we need a shift in the approach to buying IT services, led by the Government Procurement Service.”

The third iteration of G-Cloud went live in May.

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