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Iris London

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was paid by his Department to Iris London in each financial year since 2001; which contracts were awarded by his Department to Iris London in each year since 2000-01; what the cost was of each contract; what penalties for default were imposed in contract provisions; what the length was of each contract; whether the contract was advertised; how many companies applied for the contract; how many were short-listed; what criteria were used for choosing a company; what provision was made for renewal without re-tender in each case; and if he will make a statement. (225714)

The Department procure marketing services and agencies through the Central Office of Information (COI). Iris London is the holding company, and COI have contracted with either Iris Nation (Sponsorship) or Iris Direct (Direct Marketing), not with the holding group.

Payments to Iris London and contracts awarded in each financial year since 2000-01 are detailed as follows. No penalties for default have been imposed in any of the contract provisions. In each case the initial length of contract is provided as is the number of agencies shortlisted in any tender.

2001-02

Teenage Pregnancies sponsorship—£99,438.40

(One year contract awarded after tender involving three agencies. This initial contract was commissioned by DCSF although sexual health is a joint DH/DCSF programme with shared objectives.)

2002-03

Teenage Pregnancies sponsorship—£111,765.00

(Contract extended)

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£31,090.00

(One year contract awarded without tender due to Iris already working on Teenage Pregnancy sponsorship with DCSF.)

2003-04

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£179,004.00

(Contract extended)

Teenage Pregnancies Partnership Marketing—£235,780.00

(Contract extended)

2004-05

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£201,469.75

(Contract extended)

Teenage Pregnancies Partnership Marketing—£165,834.60

(Contract extended)

2005-06

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£259,627.50

(Contract extended)

Teenage Pregnancies Partnership Marketing—£419,683.00

(Contract extended)

Tobacco Control Programme Partnership Marketing—£71,840.00

(Contract awarded for six months after tender involving three agencies)

2006-07

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£663,005.21

(Contract extended)

Teenage Pregnancies Partnership Marketing—£402,988.60

(Contract extended)

Anti-Tobacco Partnership Marketing—£155,729.00

(Contract extended)

2007-08

Adult Sexual Health Partnership Marketing—£551,806.47

(Contract extended, repitched in July 2008 involving three agencies. Iris reappointed.)

Teenage Pregnancies Partnership Marketing—£346,465.68

(Contract extended, repitched in July 2008 involving three agencies. Iris reappointed.)

Anti-Tobacco Partnership Marketing—£200,540.75

(Contract extended)

COI is subject to the EU public procurement directive embodied in UK law by the Public Contract Regulations 2006. The Regulations govern the way in which Government contracts are advertised and awarded. For contracts over a threshold value it is a requirement for them to be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), which imposes strict timescales that cannot be shortened. To enable the Department to appoint a supplier in the shortest possible time, COI have a number of framework agreements (agency rosters) in place. Frameworks are themselves advertised in the OJEU, therefore contracts awarded under the terms and conditions of the framework do not need to be re-advertised or apply the strict timescales—as long as timescales are reasonable to allow the suppliers time to provide an adequate response. The majority of the Department's spend with external suppliers is via these frameworks.

A detailed evaluation process is used for agency selection as part of any tender process. Key criteria for appointment of an agency and quality markers for a successful campaign are identified in conjunction with COI prior to any tender. Evaluation procedures are also utilised to continually evaluate agency performance against set objectives.

Renewal without re-tender has taken place in a number of cases. Each contract awarded is for a specific initial term usually relating to the allocated budget for that current financial year. Contracts have included the option for contract extension as stated in COI guidelines:

“COI reserves the right to extend the contract beyond the period stated above. Payment for any extension shall be based upon the Contract Price subject to fair and reasonable adjustment, to be agreed between COI and the Contractor”.