CCS launches ICT Services for Education framework
Cloud, virtualisation and BYOD likely to be key drivers for £300m framework due since pre-tender out in Summer 2013
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has followed up its launch of the Network Services (PSN) framework last week by launching the £300m ICT Services for Education framework.
The framework, which has been-much awaited for fifteen months - a pre-tender was first issued in July 2013 with a consultation event for suppliers in early August 2013 - covers public sector bodies' needs for ICT solutions and specialist educational ICT goods and services and replaces the Becta ICT services framework first let in October 2010 and subsequently assigned to Department for Education (DfE) ownership.
This new procurement will facilitate the provision of educational ICT infrastructure services by customers such as local authorities, regional broadband consortia, maintained schools, free schools, academies, and further education colleges.
With more schools moving out of local authority control as a result of the Academy and Free School programmes, it means head teachers and ICT co-ordinators must look elsewhere for ICT guidance and innovation. Government frameworks enable buyers to 'cherry-pick' technologies and suppliers, and last year the then Government Procurement Service (GPS) on behalf of the DfE and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) announced its intention to replace the three-year old BECTA framework for ICT services.
Now GPS's successor, CCS, has finally launched the framework, the latest in a welter of framework-related activity by the service, with the BECTA agreement originally due to expire in a few days' time on 31st October.
Late last week it emerged that the government's Commodity IT Hardware & Software (CITHS) framework, originally scheduled to expire at the end of the month, has been extended until January 2015 as part of efforts to ensure continuity of service for users.
Set to be replaced by a wider ranging Technology Products framework, the Cabinet Office confirmed that delays in implementing the new agreement had led it to extend the life of CITHS.
ICT Services for Education is significant because it is the main national framework for ICT managed services and is widely used by schools and groupings buying on their behalf.
Call-offs for the framework have grown £150m in the first two and a half years of the previous framework), and business through the framework is expected to increase, possibly to up to £500m over four years. The likelihood is that there will be greater emphasis on cloud, virtualisation and bring your own device (BYOD) as schools establish a more flexible infrastructure to support changing learning patterns. There is also likely to be a greater role for online in the growing number of academies, which have more freedom around curriculum.