The government has kicked off the buying process for an all-encompassing framework to provide ICT services to schools.
The procurement, which is being led by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), will see a maximum of 20 suppliers win places on the framework, which is expected to launch in March 2015 and run for four years.
The agreement, officially titled ‘ICT Services for Education’, is estimated by CCS to be worth £300 million over its lifetime, according to a notice published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
The framework aims to support schools as they move out of local authority control and become free schools or academies, thus needing to organise their own ICT provision rather than rely on their local council to set it up for them.
The agreement is aimed at providing the full range of ICT goods, services and solutions needed by educational bodies including hardware, software, networks, peripherals, user devices and mobile connectivity.
Suppliers will need to be able to design, specify, supply, integrate, implement, test, train, support and maintain the ICT infrastructure provided via the framework, either as individual services or as a package. The agreement does not cover fixed line broadband.
It will replace an ICT services framework launched in October 2010 by former quango Becta (the ‘British Educational Communications and Technology Agency’). It transferred to Department for Education (DfE) ownership when Becta was abolished in Spring 2011.
The Becta agreement is used extensively by academies and is the default procurement mechanism for free schools, according to the DfE.
There are 22 suppliers on the existing framework, including usual players such as Northgate, RM Education, Dell, Civica, Capita and Centerprise.
The framework is aimed at educational bodies such as academies, maintained schools, free schools, and further education bodies. However it is also open to certain other public sector bodies including universities, police forces, NHS organisations and councils.
Suppliers have until 17 December to submit tenders or requests to participate in the procurement.