Management > CIO

Norfolk tenders for strategic technology partner

Charlotte Jee Published 05 June 2013

Services to be provided include cloud hosting, modern office software and analytical capability


Norfolk County Council is seeking a strategic partner to deliver and exploit a 'multi-user intelligence and technology platform' via a five-year framework agreement.

The contract, which is estimated to be worth between £18m and £100m, will run for five years, although the council has the option to extend it to seven years.

Speaking to Government Computing, Norfolk County Council's chief information officer Tom Baker explained that the contract is not for outsourcing; rather the council will appoint a service provider to complement its own ICT function. He said, "What we're after is the plumbing. We're not going after line of business stuff, but what we want is an overarching platform which offers us the ability to plug in different service offerings, partners and suppliers."

Baker added that the authority is "looking at how we transform as an organisation, and right at the nub of that is how we share data in the most safe and secure manner possible, with much more of a focus on joint outcomes and joint working going forward."

"With this contract we want to build and facilitate a common IT platform across the county. We're not going to build that ourselves as we have options like PSN and the cloud. There are a lot of people who can help us along that path, but we do have a very good support base in the county."

Baker explained that the key point of the contract is to facilitate joined-up working across the authority, facilitated by exploiting cloud, the council's PSN connectivity and other elements alongside federated identity management.

The partner will be responsible for implementing cloud-based hosting of the council's systems and deploying a modern client computing infrastructure, which provides end users with a choice of devices including desktops, laptops and tablets and access to 'up-to-date office productivity software' including e-mail and social media services.

A notice in the Official Journal of the European Union explains that the framework agreement may be used by 'any contracting authority operating in the geographical county of Norfolk or in any adjoining county', including the county's 450 schools.

According to Baker, "what we've done is try to keep it relatively open without being too open. Primarily the focus is Norfolk- and the east of England- but there are opportunities for others to tap going forward. We're focused on joining things up and driving better public services within the county."

The contract includes options for remote working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capability, plus 'collaborative working facilities'. The partner will also be responsible for implementing a federated identity management service, so users and services can be authenticated across agencies, and a 'Norfolk Information Centre', an information hub integrating information across the council, its partners and public sources to support better decision-making via facilities such as data visualisation and predictive analytics.

In addition, the partner will be expected to 'provide strategic advice and support, based on experience of and ongoing involvement in smarter cities/regions/communities initiatives, so that the council can make best use of its enhanced analytical capability to reduce costs and improve outcomes, through focusing on effective preventive activity and on proven interventions'.

Regarding the analytics element of the tender, Baker said "Local authorities have less and less money to spend cumulatively. People have been taking money out of their organisations and there is probably more to come, but increasingly in future we're going to have to be backing the right horses.

"We need to be sure that public investment drives the right outcomes for the public. We [in Norfolk] would like to see ourselves at the preventative end. But why would someone invest with us around prevention? We've got to have the wherewithal and ability to create a forward looking business case as well.

"The ability to be able to look at analytics and, looking into the future, predictive analytics, based on what you're seeing and tracking patterns on demand, is very interesting. To be able to do that across different data sets from different sources is incredibly powerful. I'm very mindful of the fact that we've got to do all of this within the confines of data protection and statute, but ultimately we're interested in the public getting best return on its money."

According to Baker, Norfolk's position as one of the first public sector organisations to gain PSN capability has "really caught the attention of the market. Because if someone cracks it here, there's no reason they can't take it into all manner of organisations pretty quickly."

The deadline for receipt of tenders or participation requests for the contract is 1 July 2013, with invitations to tender or to participate due to be sent out to chosen candidates on 15 July 2013.

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