The UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed plans for a three-year, £300 million IT services contract for the prison service, that will form part of the Ministry’s transition to a new operating model for IT.
The contract is to support the National Offender Management Service’s (NOMS) IT infrastructure, including networks and applications at prisons and agency headquarters, from July 2012.
According to a contract notice published today, the contract will "replace the current services, pending transition … to the Future ICT Sourcing (FITS) target operating model".
FITS "is a much wider programme that will change the way ICT services are delivered from the current end-to-end contracts by line of business to an MoJ-wide ‘service tower’ model," the notice reveals. This involves procuring separate contracts, or ‘service towers’, for "service integration, end-user computing, networks, hosting, and application maintenance and development".
Stephen Roberts, research director at public sector IT consultancy Kable, told Information Age that the MoJ is currently moving to converge its IT infrastructure. "The MoJ still has quite distributed systems and everything it is doing at the moment is about bring these systems together," he said.
The contract revealed today will comprise a "fair chunk" of the MoJ’s IT spending, Roberts said. "We think the MoJ spends around £590 million a year, so this contract represents broadly a sixth of the MoJ’s IT spend."
But there are three other large IT programmes the Ministry is also planning to consolidate, Roberts explained. These are application management and development programme DISC; IT and telephony contract Quantum; and OMNI, the Offender Management National Infrastructure, which consists of 43 data centres around the UK.
He added that the MoJ’s infrastructure consolidation programme is seen as a test case within government. "The MoJ is the lead within the Cabinet Office ICT strategy on cloud and infrastructure in general," he said, "so what’s done by MoJ in the course of consolidation is going to viewed very closely by the rest of Whitehall."
The ‘service tower’ model of outsourced IT procurement seems to be increasingly popular among both public and private sector organisations. Earlier this year, energy infrastructure operator the National Grid announced the move to a ‘service tower’ model of IT provision, while this week the Department of Work and Pensions announced a number of ‘service tower’ contracts.
"The government used to give all-encompassing end-to-end IT outsourcing deals to a single supplier, and that was the norm," TechMarketView analyst Georgina O’Toole explained earlier this week. "But the talk is increasingly of breaking down those legacy deals into different elements e.g. applications, desktop, network, hosting etc."
Another example is the MoD’s Defence Core Network programme, O’Toole said, "which will look to break down the existing DII, Skynet 5, HFCS, DTFS contracts a different way, i.e. by IT service rather than by technology."