DWP signs up lawyers for advice on £3bn IT deal

The Department for Work and Pensions has renewed a five year contract for legal advice, before it selects suppliers for a £3 billion IT contract.

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The Department for Work and Pensions has renewed a five year contract for legal advice, before it selects suppliers for a £3 billion desktop infrastructure contract.

Under the five year deal law firm DLA Piper, which works on IT contracts for a number of government departments and the NHS, will advise the DWP Corporate Infrastructure Technology (CIT) Group for all its IT projects, including a “potential seven-figure” deal. Fifteen lawyers will provide support from their Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool offices.

Speaking to Computerworld UK, DLA Piper partners Richard Bonner and Andrew Dyson said their main work with the DWP would be on finding a replacement supplier for the infrastructure contract, currently provided by EDS.

They declined to comment on why the contract will be opened up to competition beyond EDS, but said the DWP, like other government departments, is looking for more efficiency and cost savings in contracts in general as well as better contract terms. The desktop infrastructure contract would play a part in setting "new standards [for contracts] across the public sector”, they said.

In April, the government said the DWP would invest over £208 million in the next three years to improve IT at the Child Support Agency. The upgrade includes crucial fixes to a £450 million system built by EDS, after the original system was found to have 500 faults, as well as telecoms enhancements.

The DWP’s IT systems process payments of pensions and benefits worth £125 billion annually, distributed to 25 million British citizens. Large project work at the DWP has been completed in recent years on CRM systems including Jobcentreplus, as well as an online pensions forecast system, a state pension system change, HR and financial system improvements, benefits debt recovery and replacing legacy benefits systems.

In the public sector, DLA Piper also advises the government on contract matters for the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT. It also works with The Cabinet Office, procurement centre the Office of Government Commerce, and the Pensions Regulator.

In the private sector, DLA Piper is representing EDS in a £709 million lawsuit brought against it by broadcaster BSkyB, which is awaiting a verdict in the coming months.

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