The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has awarded consultancy Accenture a three-year extension running an application development service without competition, arguing that moving supplier would be too risky.
DWP awarded the Adep contract in November 2011 for seven years then extended it for three more in 2018. It is now planned to end on 1 November 2024, at an extra cost of up to £20 million.
In an award notice published on 21 August, the department said it was extending the Adep contract “to mitigate the high risk of disruption to the critical public services these applications support”. It said that the applications in question are written in “outdated software languages” and the whole technology stack “is aged and requires significant upgrading that would be extremely difficult without existing knowledge of the solution”.
Moving the work to another supplier “would therefore carry a high risk of disruption to service continuity, with elements that another supplier may be unable to support or replicate,” the notice continued.
DWP provided the example of PTP CAM, a customised application using Siebel’s customer relationship management system, which manages customer accounts for pension centres. It provides staff with customer records based on national insurance numbers through links to a number of other departmental applications. Changing supplier “cannot be made due to technical and economic factors and would cause significant inconvenience and substantial duplication of costs for the department,” the notice says.
It adds that the extension period will allow the department to keep existing systems going while it works on buying and setting up replacements, something that would not be possible within the old November 2021 end-date. It said that the costs of Adep have shrunk over time as some applications have been decommissioned.
On why the work has been awarded to Accenture without completion, the department said of a reprocurement: “This approach would result in substantial duplicated costs for the department compared with its strategy of a ‘wither on the vine’ run down of the legacy service.” It added that the situation had also been “significantly exacerbated by the Covid pandemic”.
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