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Departmental Information Communications Technology

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to his Department's proposals to replace progressively its IT contracts by 2015, if he will list (a) the contracts in place, (b) the value of each contract and (c) the expected date of termination of each contract when entered into; whether any costs are expected to arise from early termination of contracts; and what assessment he has made of the value for money offered by each contract. (217682)

The IT contracts that the Department is progressively replacing are:

Standard Services Business Allocation (SSBA);

Integrated Communications Network Services Business Allocation (ICONS) contract; and

the Unity Framework Agreement.

Value of each contract:

SSBA expected spend will be £2.9 billion;

ICONS expected spend will be £0.9 billion; and

The Unity Framework Agreement allows for service orders to be let within it; the value of those awarded to date is £65.5 million.

The expiry of each of these agreements is as follows:

SSBA expires in August 2010, but can be extended to February 2015.

ICONS expires in March 2011, but can be extended to February 2015.

The Unity Framework agreement expires in February 2009, however contracts placed within that term may have an expiry beyond February 2009. The only contract that currently falls into that category is in respect of the Employment and Support Allowance, whose expiry is June 2011.

The Department has no plans to terminate any of these contracting arrangements earlier than the contracted expiry date. Should it become necessary, the SSBA, ICONS and Unity contracting arrangements have the appropriate provisions for early termination.

Value for Money:

The SSBA and ICONS contracts prior to their agreement were benchmarked by external specialists; the resultant contracts have delivered substantial savings on IT costs and have also provided improved service levels for the Department.

The Unity Framework Agreement:

Which was itself the outcome of an open competition—comprises multiple suppliers in differing categories; requirements being sourced through Unity are competed through the relevant category, thus driving out value for money for the Department.

Additionally, the SSBA, ICONS and Unity arrangements have ‘Benchmarking’ clauses that can be utilised at certain times to test their value for money relative to the market.