back to article Working over Christmas? Government tech suppliers will be

The government’s tech procurement arm is asking suppliers to burn candles brightly over the festive season by filling in a 700-question Network Services tender after redrafting it. An OJEU contract notice for the framework, worth between £100m to £2bn over four years, was rewritten because suppliers claimed it was convoluted. …

  1. BearishTendencies

    Re: "They are incompetent arseholes"

    Depends on what you mean by competence.

    If it means making things complicated, changing things during the process because QA is shit and generally doing everything that GDS want despite it mostly being potty, they are world class.

    YAY! GO CCS!

  2. IHateWearingATie

    The good old days

    This used to be the usual practice for government procurement. Tender released on 19th Dec (as the procurement team goes on Christmas break), with the response due back on 5th Jan so they can get stuck in when they're back. One member of the team then occasionally checks emails (i.e once a week) in case anyone has asked any questions.

    Good to see CCS is keeping it old skool

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The good old days

      Not just government. I've dealt with a scandinavian mobile phone supplier that used to work like this as well.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's unusual about working over Christmas and New Year? 37 years in the public sector and I've never known an organisation shut down over the holiday period - more people than average on holiday maybe, but other than that, everything carries on.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We were ready to submit for a UK gov tender last week. The whole tender was really badly written and hugely ambiguous on most of the key points, but the killer was, 3 days before the deadline, they amend one phrase.

    They change "Video Editing" to "Video Auditing" - thus completely changing what the whole fupping thing is about. We threw in the towel at that point.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In other words those producing the request for tender haven't a clue what they are doing which appears to be normal for government IT tenders, and maybe everything else for the government.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        My money would be on someone deciding to spellcheck the final request for tender before sending it out, and not proofreading the resulting changes. Whoever wins the tender may be in for a shock...

  5. Mike Thomas

    Still unanswered questions

    There are still 151 unanswered questions - despite the self imposed deadline for answering them passing on 19th December.

    Is the procurement extended or is it at risk of being contested?

    1. Bluff and Bluster

      Re: Still unanswered questions

      Surely, with so many unanswered questions (assume you are referring to clarifications) , they will have to extend the deadline. The alternative is spending a lot of time batting away the legal flies. It is truly a shame when things like this happen.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Network Services - a Framework too far?

    It's a total shambles.

    Been running (as a market engagement process) since May 2013 until the ITT released in Oct 2014 so CCS had ample opportunity to get the structure and terms in workable condition before issuing them to the supplier market.

    Biggest issue seems to be uncommon lack of clarity and unnecessary levels of complexity regarding the supplier offerings, how they can be presented, priced and delivered and crucially how suppliers will be evaluated to get on the framework. Coupled with distinct lack of communication in terms of the Q&A and CCS inconsistencies in answering questions. Now over 840 questions on the list, many are duplicates because suppliers haven't had ongoing view of the questions already raised by others, and CCS actively encouraging multiple suppliers to raise questions in writing during the so called "Supplier Briefings" held in Oct and early Nov. Some questions have not been answered since the framework began accepting queries.

    Having worked on the latest GCloud and Tech Services responses (all 3 x of these key frameworks released at the same time with coinciding deadlines too - another top bit of planning by CCS), I cannot understand the rationale why Network Services had to be so uber complicated. Both the other frameworks had a similar supplier community applying, however CCS made the submission process far more straight forward, and although there were Q&A for each, they were released in good time, at frequent intervals (and in Excel, not Just PDF) so suppliers could assimilate the clarification info and take on board in the response without too much drama.

    So much for CCS being "SME-friendly" I doubt any SME company has found this framework to be a easy or positive experience, and may be put off bidding in future for any Govt work themselves.

    There is a lot at stake in the supplier community to gain a place on Network Services - jobs may be lost if failure incurred - and while the engaged bid teams, technical resources and legal bods will be prepared to work the inevitable long hours/weekends/bank holidays as required (they always do), the reason for the anger on this is that working over Xmas/New Year should not have to be necessary in the first place. CCS have created this situation through basic lack of common sense and ongoing culture where suppliers are the enemy; always out to "rip off" the public sector (BTW most of us employed at suppliers are UK taxpayers) and therefore must be kept at arms length, even when our framework levies contribute to their overall funding.

    Let us hope that CCS learn valuable lessons from how this framework has been conducted and take on board the feedback from suppliers and public sector buyers alike.

    1. Smoking Gun

      Re: Network Services - a Framework too far?

      Like on RM1058 providing suppliers with a new service description template that must be completed 2 days before the deadline (after we had already submitted as we had our house in order).

    2. Bluff and Bluster

      Re: Network Services - a Framework too far?

      No lessons will be learnt, at the heart of it is that there are no effective managers, merely an army of Civil Servants who are novices when it comes to understanding what the public sector need. However they will be well versed on procurement process, this jigsaw just does not fit together properly.

      " I cannot understand the rationale why Network Services had to be so uber complicated." The reason is purely down to lazy procurement, coupled with my comment above that they do not know/understand what it is being procured.

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