The Cabinet Office has unveiled a list of suppliers that have been selected to participate in an extensive £904 million pan-government framework, the details of which have prompted concern amongst analysts.
The framework was announced in November last year and is divided up into the following four lots, with the following suppliers selected to provide the services:
Lot 1 - Limited range of standard specification devices and services (worth up to £190 million). This lot will solely be provided by Xerox.
Lot 2 - Full catalogue offering of multifunctional devices and services (worth up to £570 million). Suppliers selected for this lot include Canon, Konica Minolta, Xerox and XMA.
Lot 3 - Managed print services (worth up to £140 million). To be provided by Canon, HP, Konica Minolta and Xerox.
Lot 4 - Print Audit Services (£4 million). This lot includes Altodigital Networks, Apogee, Bramble CC, The Danwood Group, DTP Group, EKM4, M2, Mike Wood Consultancy, Newfield IT, PUROSolutions, Ricoh, Team Logic, Toshiba Tec UK Imaging and Wyse Solutions.
The framework will be available to a wide variety of public sector bodies to purchase goods and services, which include central government departments, NHS bodies, educational establishments, the third sector and local authorities.
However, TechMarketView directors Georgina O'Toole and John O'Brien both believe that the framework is not clear in its description and creates confusion for suppliers.
"The framework raises more questions than it answers. Looking at the contract notice, there are different lots with different values attached, but how much goes through the framework will be dependent on the demand for the services," O'Toole and O'Brien commented.
"There is no mention either of where the funding for new equipment and services is coming from."
They added: "We are seeing more of these frameworks with big numbers attached but no definite commitment to spend through them. This means there will be a level uncertainty from the supplier as to how much it can reasonably expect to achieve.
"There is also the potential for confusion on the client-side as departments and agencies struggle to understand the most appropriate procurement channel to use."
Both analysts also argued that by only signing Xerox to Lot 1 limits the government's opportunity to increase competition and improve services.
"It is always concerning when only one supplier is selected for a given lot. Departments are expected to use this framework, but where is the competitive element?" they said.
"There is also the question of how this framework fits in, when central government only recently signed a centralised print services deal with Williams Lea, which replaces 140 separate print services contracts."