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By | Paul Kunert 6th December 2013 14:49

Suppliers given sight of '£6bn' hardware framework at last

IT PASS more likely to be £300m, say sceptical sources - and as for year's end? Whatever

A group of professional buyers for government have given hardware and software suppliers the heads-up on an overarching public sector procurement vehicle - and it estimates that to be worth up to £6bn.

Details of the IT Products, Associated Services and Solutions (IT PASS), were leaked to us last month, but suppliers were formally given a Prior Information Notice (PIN) yesterday on the Government Procurement Services (GPS) portal.

This PIN is the first step to getting the framework off the ground – a Request for Information comes next – which is the first of three expected to hit the channel in the next few months.

IT PASS includes four Lots: Volume Hardware and Associated Services; Packaged Software and Services; Information Assurance Products and Pervices; and End User Computing Devices.

The Volume hardware lot includes the provision and configuration of desktop, laptops, slabs, workstation, mid-range PCs, mini computers, peripherals, AV kit, servers and storage.

Software includes the provision of licenses and a raft of services including support, deployment, configuration and data transfer/migration.

The Information Assurance products segment is limited to the procurement of encrypted, encrytable ICT "solutions".

The final section, End User Computing Devices, is for the supply of large volumes of PCs, thin client, tabs and server.

Alongside the existing Government Procurement Service, the frameworks, which are being specified by the MoD and another buying group, Pro 5, will be open to tech buyers across all public sector bodies.

The assumption from channel sources is that the scheme, a replacement to the Commodity IT Hardware & Software agreement that expires 28 February, will run for three years with an option to extend by a further 12 months.

GPS stated in the PIN that the framework will be worth between £4bn to £6bn, but this is unlikely to be realised, say our sources, who suggested a figure between £200m to £300m is more realistic.

"The bigger figure is to cover GPS's backside, does it mean it will be that big? Probably not. It could be worth a couple of billions [pounds at most]. Unless they go bezerk," said one.

Public sector suppliers have been waiting for months for a replacement framework to CITHS, which was originally set to wind down in August but was extended to early next year. This because the similar IT Hardware & Associated Services agreement was not liked by tech buyers or channel folk - it was branded too bureaucratic and offered a limited bunch of SKUs.

Sources at suppliers were sceptical that GPS and pals can get IT PASS up and running before the 28 February cessation of CITHS.

"It only takes one legal challenge [from a supplier that did not make it past the stage] and the timelines go out of the window," said one.

GPS did not publish a start date, and warned the outline of the lots could change as it carries out "extensive market engagement to test assumptions behind this lot structure".

PINs for a high volume Transactional IT Procurement framework and one for specialist software are also in the offing, GPS confirmed. These are the frameworks El Chan covered last month. ®

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