Buying Solutions has tendered a PSN framework agreement valued at £2bn for joined-up government services
Buying Solutions, the government procurement service, has begun advertising for telecommunications services under the Public Sector Network (PSN) scheme, intended as a unified ‘network of networks’ to reduce costs for public sector communications.
The group has tendered a pan-government framework agreement for PSN services, estimating the value of the contract at up to £2 billion. The notice is a reworked version of one published in mid-August that estimated the contract’s value at up to £3 billion, according to Buying Solutions.
The PSN was pioneered by the previous Labour government, which in its ICT Strategy proposed setting up a network that was “secure, based on open standards, interoperable, energy efficient and competitive”. This would replace the current hotchpotch of public sector networks, which were described as “fragmented, unreliable and expensive”.
The PSN is intended for central government departments, NHS bodies, local authorities and charities, among other public sector groups. The idea is to create a competitive, standardised marketplace for these services which should lead to lower costs.
Suppliers under the framework will need to offer communication, conferencing, contact centre, mobile voice and data, CCTV and physical monitoring, LAN, gateway and unified services, as well as design, implementation, testing and integration, according to Buying Solutions. These can be provided either directly or through sub-contractors, and services may be either nation-wide or localised, the group said.
Contracts will have an initial term of two years, with the option to extend for two more one-year terms.
Last month the first stage of the joined-up digital government plan was completed with the successful testing of a PSN in the South of England. Project Pathway was the trail-blazing initiative to kick off the formation of a secured network between local authorities around the country, paving the way for the introduction of private cloud services.
In this phase, Hampshire County Council has been connected to Kent County Council to demonstrate effective collaboration between multiple suppliers and public sector bodies. It was intended, initially at least, to establish and improve methods for purchasing and thereby to realise significant savings through the common approaches that may now be adopted.
Virgin Media Business and Global Crossing collaborated to produce a Government Conveyance Network and then connected the two regional networks to deliver digital services such as IP telephony and HD video conferencing. The network established by the technical suppliers still has a long way to go. It will gradually expand and form a web of interactivity between all English and Welsh local authorities. At a later date, it will intersect with a similar project for central government departments.