DWP extends HP hosting deal under Accord contract

Data centre

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has extended a managed hosting deal with HP for up to three more years as it continues plans to transition its IT infrastructure.

A contract notice issued by the department over the weekend made it clear the extension was awarded without the deal going out for tender, with the DWP citing "technical reasons" for doing so.

HP hosts the Whitehall department's IT infrastructure through its Standard Services Business Allocation (SSBA) offering, under the Accord contract.

The service underpins the DWP's welfare benefits and payments administration, and - as such - needs to be maintained without disruption, according to the department.

"Such an extension will allow the contracting authority to minimise any unacceptable risks of service transition and delivery failure," the contract notice read.

The HP deal was due to expire this month, with the DWP planning to transition from HP's datacentres to either host its infrastructure as a founding member of the Crown Hosting Service (CHS), for which Capgemini has been selected as the network architect, or in cloud infrastructure procured through G-Cloud.

However, TechMarketView analyst Georgina O'Toole said the procurement process for CHS has suffered problems.

She said: "We understand that the CHS procurement has hit a number of hurdles and DWP needs to move now as a result of the expiry of its existing arrangements."

She added that the DWP's contract notice outlines the challenges Whitehall faces in moving away from Big IT contracts, which Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude claims the government will be rid of by 2020.

"It is a perfect illustration of the difficulties major departments, like DWP, have moving away from existing arrangements supporting large and complex legacy systems," O'Toole claimed.

One problem could be the complexity of the current provision under the tower model DWP has opted for.

The notice reads: "The end to end service is fragmented between several Tower contracts and in some areas the technical parameters within the systems are so intricate that no other provider would be able to legitimately provide the service."

O'Toole claimed such statements will come under more scrutiny as May's general election approaches, with political parties due to outline their digital manifestos to improve public sector IT sooner rather than later.

A DWP spokesman said: "We are in the process of extending this contract for three years for the purpose of transition and exit."