Chief Ministers Office
State Information Technology Committees should be set up in each of the states preferably chaired by the respective Chief Ministers. The Composition of the State level Committees could be left to the individual states for defining a suitable structure and composition.
Ministry of Informatics
Current technological developments are fast blurring the boundaries between computers, communications and broadcasting. Cable networks can by upgradation of their networks offer telephone services and telephone companies can compete in delivery of broadcasting and video services. In future, according to the Economist, "there will no longer be distinct data and voice markets, just one for combined data/voice/video". The convergence of the Internet with the telephone and television will also bring in new dimensions in the IT industry.
In keeping with these trends a Ministry of Informatics should be created by merging, the Department of Telecommunications, Department of Electronics and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This will bring the much-needed coherence into the planning and implementation of Information Technology related initiatives at the national level.
Institutional arrangements will have to be made to guide the process of change in individual government ministries, departments and agencies. Currently the lack of skill levels and specialised knowledge in the area of Information Technology is a constraining factor for quick uptake of technology within government. The process of securing expert advice from outside government given existing procedures and guidelines, coupled with lack of in-house capability to evaluate, is found to be a tedious and difficult one. We would therefore recommend that the National Informatics Centre at the national level and the Technology Service organisations at the state level should on the lines of the CCTA in the UK immediately establish `Framework Contracts with reputed suppliers to provide a wide range of IT consultancy and specialist services to government agencies, on a call off basis. The evaluation of private sector firms could take into account factors such as financial stability, track record and experience, available resources, quality systems, fee rates, discount structures and administration and management systems.
To illustrate in the case of the CCTA in the UK, `Framework Contracts, currently cover the following service categories:
This arrangement would not only ensure a quick response to requirements of government agencies but also provide competitive rates, choice of suppliers and consultants, easy ordering based on standardised procedures and contractual protection.
Chief Information or Chief Knowledge Officers
Each Ministry/Department should have a Chief Information/Knowledge Officer for guiding the process of information. The Chief Information Officers should have the visibility and responsibilities to advise on the design, development and implementation of information systems. Thailands National Information Technology Committee has recently approved the appointment of Chief Information Officers for every ministry. Australia and the US among many other countries already have similar arrangements. Unless we build up capability within government with a well trained corps of IT professionals it will be difficult for Information Technology to make inroads into its functioning.
Council of Chief Information Officers
A Council of Chief Information Officers could provide an interagency forum for the design, modernisation, use, and implementation of IT applications. The forum could also contribute significantly towards defining standards and practices among government agencies.
Interstate IT Forum
It is important to devise an institutional mechanism for states to co-ordinate and collaborate on on-line projects. An Interstate IT forum at the national level is necessary for promoting collaboration across states for delivery of electronic services to be public. The forum will facilitate transfer of expertise and technology between state governments and will co-ordinate pilot projects. The forum could also set up a web site for disseminating information among state governments.
To begin with, a meeting of Chief Ministers should be held at the national level and a co-ordination mechanism should be evolved for rationalisation of policies impinging on the Information Technology sector. The prioritisation of national Information Technology flagship applications should be discussed in the forum. States should be encouraged to set up Departments of Information Technology and Technology organisations on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services for example. The states should also be asked to prepare their Information Technology plans and accord high priority to the development of information systems and electronic Citizen interfaces.
The Interstate IT Forum should serve as a clearing house for strategic ideas on use of Information Technology for better government.
CCTA Services Catalogue
The IT Services Catalogue for the Public Sector
These notes contain all the essential information about S-CAT, its background, its aims and objectives, the type of services that are available, the contractual arrangements and the ordering procedure.
IT projects, as all IT professionals know, can be very demanding. But it is not just the IT staff which are placed under pressure. Purchasing Authorities within the public sector are increasingly required to procure IT consultancy services against very tight deadlines and with limited resources. Running competitive procurement exercises, particularly for requirements which exceed the EC tendering threshold, can be both time consuming and costly and can tie up scarce buying resources for long periods.
S-CAT is a major new CCTA service aimed at making the procurement of IT consultancy services that little bit easier by offering a pre-tendered catalogue facility. S-CAT removes the need for, or simplifies, some of the procurement processes enabling buyers and sellers to concentrate quickly on setting up IT consultancy assignments where they can add real value.
The S-CAT catalogue comes in paper or electronic form, the latter being accessible by registered customers over the Internet. To join S-CAT, and gain access to the catalogue, you simply need the contact CCTA by one of the methods given at the end of this brochure. CCTA staff will be pleased to take you through the sign-up procedure.
CCTA is a Government executive agency which reports to the Office of Public Service (OPS) which is part of the Cabinet Office. CCTA's remit is to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector's use of IT. It liaises closely with the Central IT Unit (CITU) in developing and implementing Government IT policy in the public sector.
For over 25 years, CCTA has offered advice and guidance to Government organisations on the development of IS strategies, and the procurement and management of IT systems and services including telecommunications and data communications. In the mid 1980s, CCTA developed the Standing Arrangements system for procuring IT commodity products and services. Alongside this, it developed the Total Acquisition Process (TAP), and an associated series of model contracts, for the procurement of major systems and services. TAP has become the single most used system for major systems acquisition in the public sector.
The IT industry is, of course, highly dynamic and new products and services are constantly coming onto the market as technological advances take place. Manufacturers are increasingly producing commodity products which are available "off-the shelf" and services are showing a similar trend with increasing use being made of commodity-based descriptions and menu pricing. If customers are to derive maximum benefits from these developments it is important that procurement practices and procedures adapt to the changing market situation.
In 1995, therefore, CCTA decided to replace its Standing Arrangements system with more modern facilities under which public sector organisations could procure IT commodity products and services. The following year, CCTA introduced the Government IT Catalogue (GCat) which offers a wide catalogue of IT products and supply-related services from a variety of manufacturers and suppliers through pre-tendered framework contracts. GCat is being used by over 300 organisations from across the public sector.
S-CAT is a sister scheme to GCat and covers wider IT consultancy and specialist services not available through GCat. S-CAT is based on framework contracts which CCTA has established with a number of service providers following the conduct of an advertised procurement under EC procedures.
The S-CAT procurement was advertised in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Communities on 21 February 1997. Suppliers were invited to bid for one or more of the service categories within the catalogue and a total 522 bids were received from 118 different organisations. Following a pre-qualification sift, detailed proposals were submitted from over 50 suppliers. These were subjected to detailed evaluation which took account of such factors as company financial stability, track record & experience, available resources, quality systems, fee rates, discount structures and administrative and management systems. Contracts were awarded on 8 October 1997 to 36 prime contractors whose services are listed in the S-CAT catalogue and which can be procured through the scheme. Many successful prime contractors propose to use associate companies or sub-contractors in delivering S-CAT services to customers.
The S-CAT coverage is extensive but CCTA stresses that S-CAT is not some form of exclusive list. The service providers selected have been rigorously vetted and have met the specific requirements of the S-CAT procurement, but this does not imply that other firms are deemed unsuitable for public business.
S-CAT will reduce the time and costs associated with the procurement of IT consultancy services by offering a simplified pre-tendered call-off facility to public sector organisations and the privatised utilities. In particular S-CAT aims to provide the following benefits:
While S-CAT will provide a simplified procurement process, it will not remove purchasing responsibilities from customers. Customers will be free to develop direct working relationships with their selected contractors in the normal way.
In setting up S-CAT, CCTA has consulted HM Treasury, the Treasury Solicitor, and its own legal advisers and is firmly of the opinion that the scheme has met all the requirements of EC procurement law. HM Treasury has confirmed that the EC has not indicated any difficulty in a central procurement agency such as CCTA setting up framework contracts for use by a specified range of contracting authorities.
In the case of S-CAT, therefore, the obligations of each contracting authority or entity to advertise in the Official Journal and to conduct a competitive procurement in accordance with the EC's directives has already been complied with by virtue of CCTA's S-CAT procurement exercise. There should be no additional legal requirement for each S-CAT user to conduct a separate procurement exercise in relation to the purchases that it makes under the S-CAT scheme.
The Service Categories
The S-CAT catalogue is structured into 8 generic service categories:
Below is a list of successful prime contractors along with information on the service categories for which they have been awarded contracts. Many companies have been successful in more than one section and there is a wide choice of suppliers within each category. Within the catalogue, each service category includes information about the companies which have been appointed and the services they can provide.
S-CAT list of service providers
The fee rates shown in the S-CAT catalogue are maximum daily rates which have been quoted by the service providers for providing consultants or specialist staff who meet the broad grading criteria set by CCTA. These definitions are detailed in the catalogue and are designed to promote like-for-like comparison. They are not, however, intended to be a straightjacket and customers are free to stipulate different qualifications, skills or experience requirements in their specifications, in which case the fee rates quoted by service providers may differ from the catalogue rates.
Customers should avoid using the S-CAT maximum prices stated in the catalogue as benchmarks for comparing fee rates available through alternative supply arrangements. As stated above, the catalogue rates are fee maxima which set the ceiling on S-CAT charges. Many factors can influence charges, and the actual quotations from service providers in response to specific work assignments may often be lower that the published maximum rates in the catalogue.
Fee rates quoted by S-CAT service providers in response to customer requirements are inclusive of all overhead costs including the costs incurred by CCTA in setting up and managing S-CAT. There are no separate charges for joining or using S-CAT.
The catalogue includes additional information on the companies who are providing services under S-CAT including partnering and sub-contracting arrangements where applicable. This information is intended to help customers make judgements about the suitability of particular companies for possible work assignments and does not form part of the S-CAT contractual terms and conditions. Contact details are included for each company from whom additional information can be obtained if required. The Internet version of S-CAT includes hot-links to company web sites where further information is available.
Customer Access Agreements
Before any orders can be placed under S-CAT, the organisation concerned is required to have signed a Customer Access Agreement (CAA) with CCTA. The CAA sets down the contractual terms and conditions of the scheme and the obligations of the parties concerned. In the case of customers who are Crown bodies, their contractual relationship with CCTA will not be legally enforceable (as CCTA is a Crown body), but this will not in any way reduce or impair customer rights and remedies against service providers in the event of poor performance, etc.
Virtually all UK organisations which are subject to the EC Services or Utilities Directives are eligible to enter into a CAA with CCTA and to use S-CAT. These include central Government departments, executive agencies, local authorities, NHS bodies, educational establishments, police forces and public and privatised utilities.
If you are not sure whether your organisation has entered into a CAA with CCTA, or would like to do so, you should contact the CCTA S-CAT enquiry point detailed at the end of this brochure.
S-CAT Terms and Conditions
The standard terms and conditions applicable to work performed by service providers under S-CAT are included in the CAA and, for convenience, are repeated in the catalogue. These terms and conditions have been specially negotiated by CCTA to meet the needs of public sector organisations, though they may be amended by mutual agreement between the customer and the service provider (the contractor) if required.
When a customer places an order for work with a service provider listed in the catalogue, it will establish an "assignment contract" with the company concerned which will comprise the service order form, the customer's specification, the contractors proposal, the S-CAT terms and conditions and any special terms agreed between the customer and the contractor. Once an assignment contract has been established, the contractor will be directly responsible to the customer for carrying out the work according to the agreed specification and contractual terms and conditions. Assignment contracts will be established directly between the Customer and his chosen service provider: CCTA will not normally be involved in this process.
As mentioned above, there is provision within S-CAT for the customer to include additional or amended terms, known as special terms, within services orders which, provided they are agreed with the service provider, form part of the assignment contract. Special terms may be used for a variety of purposes including, for example, increasing the liability limits or setting the acceptance criteria and payment profiles for complex or high value assignments.
The procedure for the selection of service providers and the placement of orders are set out in the CAA (Clause 3 and Schedule 4). As a general rule, customers are advised to seek quotations in writing from a number of companies listed within the relevant service category of the catalogue (the mini-competition procedure). Single tenders may be justified when the requirement is of low value or when the customer wishes to place repeat or extended business with a company which has already demonstrated value for money to the customer's satisfaction.
Regardless of which procedure is used, selection of service providers should be consistent with the principle of the most economically advantageous tender using relevant criteria from the following list (customers should select and weight the criteria according to their own particular requirements):
The sophistication and degree of formality of the evaluation processes used by customers will depend on the size and complexity of their requirements. For high value orders, CCTA recommends that a formal evaluation model is established prior to the issue of invitations to tender and that normal conventions on the issue of tender invitations and the receipt of bids are observed.
Where a customer has a wide-ranging requirement which spans more than one S-CAT category, he should select companies to invite to submit a response to the specification from the service category where the major part of the requirement falls. Some companies are represented in more than one category and customers may wish to consider this aspect when selecting companies for such requirements. Alternatively, companies within the relevant service category should be able to cover wider requirements through suitable sub-contracting arrangements.
Following selection of the service provider, service orders may be placed by the customer on the successful service provider by post or fax or, where the parties agree, by e-mail. The service order may take the form of the model included in Schedule 4 of the CAA or may be in a form agreed bilaterally between the customer and the service provider. Any special terms should be detailed in the order form.
CCTA' s Role
CCTA has established a legally binding framework contract with each of the successful service providers in S-CAT. CCTA will manage these framework contracts and will monitor performance levels provided to S-CAT customers. It will conduct annual negotiations with service providers on fees and charges and will negotiate other changes to the S-CAT terms and conditions which are deemed to be necessary in the customer interest.
CCTA will establish CAAs with eligible organisations wishing to use the scheme and will explain the contract and ordering procedures as required. It will produce and promulgate the paper catalogue to customer organisations and will provide and manage the central Internet catalogue including customer and supplier access. It is expected that secure electronic commerce facilities will be developed as part of the service in due course. In the meantime e-mail links will be provided between customers and service providers as part of the Internet catalogue facility.
CCTA will monitor customer satisfaction levels and will take appropriate action in any cases where a service provider has failed to give satisfactory service or has otherwise breached the terms and conditions of an assignment contract. When requested by customers, CCTA will use its offices to help resolve any disputes between customers and service providers over work performance or contractual matters.
Subject to customer demand, CCTA will conduct further EC-based procurements to expand the depth and breadth of the catalogue. It will also re-compete the existing contracts after a maximum period of 5 years.