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What next following the expiration of GCF contracts?

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Last month, public sector organisations were told the Government Secure Intranet Convergence Framework (GCF) contract had expired in August 2015. GCF contracts were first introduced to empower public sector departments by putting choice and cost savings into the hands of any organisations using the framework to purchase IT services.

However, with the contract now expired and closed for new business, public sector organisations may inadvertently find themselves locked into unappealing IT contracts. Although many may question what the issue is here, failing to act would mean contracts become very high risk. Without the GCF contracts behind such agreements as of March 2017, organisations will find themselves using IT services with no contractual obligation supporting them. So, if an NHS trust found its phone system had failed, the provider would be under no obligation to resolve the issue within the previously negotiated service level agreement. Similarly, if HMRC suffered an IT outage on tax deadline day, chaos would ensue if a contract wasn’t in place to ensure the problem was fixed within the hour.

To make this even more complex for the public sector, many departments have fragmented IT systems in place facilitated by numerous providers, while others have an all-encompassing service wrap in place. Without support, many organisations will find it increasingly difficult to end their current contracts and procure new services.

The remedy

With the earliest contracts ending in December of this year, the warnings haven’t left public sector organisations with much time to replace the contracts currently in place. However, the fragmented state of the public sector currently means time is exactly what these organisations will need to take stock of current providers currently offering their services, begin research and start the tender process. Without a drop in productivity in certain areas, managing such a task isn’t possible internally.

This is why it’s so important for organisations to take advantage of the recent legislative change which enables the public sector to enter into open and transparent ‘preliminary market consultations’. During these discussions, managed service providers can offer the recommendations of how best to utilise IT services and overarching frameworks, such as the G-cloud, to reduce the complexity of public sector technology. This is especially vital when you consider each public sector department is left to fend for itself. So while smaller departments such as NHS Trusts may need to replace just one overarching contract, large departments like the Department for Working Pensions could have a large number of different IT contracts in place which all need replacing.

The time has come for the public sector to act and replace its IT contracts before they expire. Support for the organisations within the sector hasn’t been forthcoming, so it’s down to managed service providers to take up this mantle, before hundreds of thousands of professionals find themselves relying on unsecure technology without a contractual safety net.

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