EDS criticised for prison services prices

An Electronic Data Systems (EDS) contract with the prison services is under scrutiny after the Mail on Sunday reported that the Home Office was paying more than 2,800 a year to lease a laptop rather than buy it for a third of the price.

The newspaper reported that it had seen documents showing that the prison service is charged 2,851.44 a year to lease a laptop, 2,136 for a desktop computer and 1,447.20 for an A3 colour laser printer from supplier EDS.

The Home Office countered that the pricing also includes back-end services.

The newspaper quoted Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk and a member of the Public Accounts Committee, as saying: "I would be highly suspicious of that. It's basically rubbish the Government has swallowed from the computer supplier."

EDS told IT PRO that the article failed to fully understand the full extent of services provided in the contract.

"What wasn't clearly articulated is we provide a bundle of services," said an EDS spokesperson. "It's not simply the PC cost itself. You can't compare the cost of the items with the cost from Dell or the high street."

The spokesperson said the twelve-year contract, which began in 2000, provides hardware to the prison services, as well as network security, a helpdesk, software and technology refreshes.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said the contract includes a fully-managed IT system for the prison service's 24,000 PCs and 38,000 telephones. "It's more than just hardware rentals, it's the entire package, including a high level of security," the spokesperson said, claiming that the average cost for a PC per year is 1,282, lower than the Mail on Sunday's figure of over 2,800.