The Ministry of Justice has extended yet another chunk of its mega National Offender Management IT contracts, in a further sign the department is struggling to break away from its decade-long big IT agreements.
The Offender Management National Infrastructure consists of 43 data centres around the UK, and was a 10-year deal signed with French outsourcer Sopra Steria in 2005 for £274m.
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However, that deal has now been extended for up to another year at a cost of £28.7m. But, the department said it intends to end the contract before that date "in which case, the actual cost of this contract may be lower than the estimated".
The contract was due to be replaced by the MoJ's new Future ICT Sourcing "tower" contracts – intended to break up huge outsourcing contracts into separate chunks. However, the attempt to implement the FITs (feed in tariffs) contract model has been going extremely badly.
Last year The Register revealed that the MoJ's £250m National Offender Management IT system, for networks and applications in prisons, was also restarted again last year. That system was intended to provide interim hosting ICT services until FITs is in place.
An MoJ spokesperson said: "Due to the complexity of this programme, it was not possible to complete transition to the new suppliers by the end of last year. As a result, a contract extension with the current supplier has been agreed. We are on track to complete transition by June this year, meaning the actual cost of the contract will be much lower than originally forecast." ®
The "tower model" was originally conceived as a stepping stone for breaking up big government contracts before moving to a multi-sourcing approach by building up operational and management skills in-house. However, the Cabinet Office has said that is no longer the official government strategy.
It is not clear what the new strategy is, but many departments have been extending their existing outsourcing deals as they scratch their heads, thinking what to do next.
HMRC is so worried about breaking up its mega £1.3bn Aspire contract with Capgemini and Fujitsu, it has hired a private company to advise it on transition plans for the next two years.
Meanwhile, the disaster of the jointly-owned Common Agriculture Policy IT system earlier this year, suggests the government does not yet have an "agile" contract IT model that works at scale either. ®