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Prison Service: Quantum Project

Volume 588: debated on Monday 30 March 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Why they selected two firms to participate in the Quantum Project to assess the feasibility and value for money options in the delivery of information technology to the Prison Service; how they will ensure that the supply of these services is open and competitive and that specifications are written in a manner that does not restrict competition; why they did not divide the contract into modules, each of which could have been the subject of separate competitive tenders. [HL1072]

The Prison Service is undertaking a procurement under the European Communities Services Directive using the negotiated procedure. In doing so, it has evaluated suppliers' proposals and has selected two suppliers as suitable to participate in the Quantum Project. Adopting the negotiated procedure enables the suppliers' solution and service offerings to be fully negotiated before they are finalised in a contract. Having two suppliers in the process ensures there is a competitive element to all aspects of the contract.The decision not to divide the contract into modules was taken after a review had taken place as to its feasibility. There were strong arguments in favour of not splitting up the services across different suppliers. One was that an integrated service approach will enable the Prison Service to receive a common infrastructure through which all information will flow; and, second, the main services of prisoner administration, finance and personnel are interwoven and not readily separable. These views were shared by a range of advisors to the project, as well as Prison Service personnel and suppliers.