The public sector could soon have access to shared Oracle ERP platforms operating through one of the government's shared services centres, if a £750 million framework agreement goes ahead.
Details of the agreement emerged today in a prior information notice, which is being run out of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The notice reads: "The scope intends to cover existing Oracle platforms in the UK government departments and any supporting technologies, and to include upgrades and implementations of new Oracle version for these existing platforms."
Essentially, the government is looking for an implementation partner, or partners, to get departments onto a select few shared Oracle ERP platforms, as opposed to having many disparate systems operating across the public sector.
Other reports have suggested that the Cabinet Office wants a single Oracle ERP platform across government, but Computerworld UK understands this not to be true. An FCO insider working on the framework said that it is likely that there will be multiple Oracle ERPs to choose from, which will vary in cost.
According to sources, this will also not be mandated as the only option for government departments, as there are other frameworks available, such as the G-Cloud.
It is also understood that this framework is being issued off the back of the government's recent deal with Oracle over reduced licensing costs, which should deliver £75 million worth of savings by 2015.
The £75 million in savings will be due to measures such as the application of a single discount for new Oracle contracts signed from now on -- but not applicable to existing contracts -- with the government acting as a 'single customer' buying products in bulk from the supplier.
Previously, different parts of government have purchased Oracle software on different terms and at different prices, for example, via system integrators, which charge an administration fee for the service.
The FCO source said that it is looking to keep the number of vendors involved on the framework to a minimum. This fits with the government's announcement at the end of last year that there would be fewer frameworks created going forward, but if they were created, they would involve fewer suppliers in order to remove excess waste and would have to be considered 'strategically important'.
However, if handed to one or two suppliers, it is likely that critics will view the framework, which could reach three-quarters of a billion pounds, as another example of the public sector handing cumbersome SI contracts to a select few companies - ultimately blocking out smaller players.
Sources indicated that there will be a supplier event held on the 11th February and an official contract notice could be issued in March. It is understood that the contract length is likely to be run for a minimum of three years, with the possibility to extend for up to four years.
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