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Innopsis makes case for framework for Network Services 2

08/05/18

Trade association points to potential advantages over dynamic purchasing system for replacement for RM1045 framework

The managing director of Innopsis has argued for a framework rather than a dynamic purchasing system (DPS) in the new version of the Crown Commercial Services’ (CCS) Network Services Framework (NSF).

The issue is currently being explored by the CCS and the industry, with the NSF due to expire in August and details of the new arrangement expected to be published in July, followed by an opening of the competition for places in the late summer.

CCS began the procurement for Network Services 2 with the publication of a prior information notice in April and an indication it could cover spending of up £5 billion.

Mike ThomasThe organisation has begun to use the DPS approach – in which new suppliers can join after it has gone into operation – notably with the framework for the Health and Social Care Network. But Mike Thomas (picutred) of Innopsis – the association for suppliers of digital infrastructure and services to the public sector – told UKAuthority there would be significant advantages in sticking with a framework.

“On a DPS the competition is in the purchasing; as long as you meet the overall criteria you can get on,” he said. “You could end up with a framework with 1,000 suppliers then when someone wants to buy something they have to invite all those people and run their competition.

“Where some people are buying low value services, the procurement costs for industry and the public sector can be heavy. By running a framework we can have direct awards where the competition is to get onto the framework and you will have fewer suppliers, but the hard work has been done and it is a quick, easy procurement.”

Scope for dialogue

He said the approach also allows scope for a dialogue between suppliers and potential customers before they create an offer that would work for the public sector.

Discussions about the structure of lots for the new procurement vehicle are still ongoing, and Thomas said the crucial factor “is making sure what the capabilities there are for the lots, what elements we think are most appropriate for competition that gives the kind of structure that meets a range of public sector organisations”.

He added that since its launch three years ago the existing version of NSF has involved a spend of around £294 million, with £212 million coming over the 2017-18 financial year. He said it is not clear how much money will transfer between the frameworks but it will probably be between £240 million and £300 million.

“While this clearly does not account for all government spend on telecommunications and digital infrastructure, it represents a key part of any public sector provider's go-to-market strategy,” he said.

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