Somerset county council and Taunton Deane borough council have selected IBM as the preferred bidder for a 10-year strategic partnership contract worth £400m.
The joint venture partnership deal will cover IT, customer services, human resources, finance, procurement, property services, facilities management and support services at both councils. It will also deliver revenue and benefits services for Taunton Deane council.
Avon and Somerset Police Authority is considering the possibility of joining the partnership, while 34 other public authorities in the south-west of England have signed a framework agreement allowing them to purchase services from it in future without having to go through a standard procurement process.
The partnership is aimed at improving public services in a measurable way and making a “significant contribution” to future efficiency saving targets.
The award of preferred bidder status came after a year-long selection process, with BT and Capita the other shortlisted suppliers. A report to Somerset council says selection of a preferred bidder was “contingent on securing key contractual principles within six weeks of appointment”, with an unnamed reserve bidder lined up in case a satisfactory agreement is not reached.
The contract, which is expected to be finalised and signed in June, will see 700 Somerset council staff and 100 from Taunton Deane transferred to the new partnership. Another 500 support staff could be transferred if Avon and Somerset police join the venture.
Somerset council leader Cathy Bakewell said: “This partnership represents outstanding value for money and a tremendous partnership with IBM so we can learn from their international experience and apply those benefits in Somerset for the benefit of local people.”