The Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service (GDS) are seeking a private sector partner to provide data centre space and related services in a contract that could be worth up to £700m.
The supplier would have to subscribe for a majority shareholding (up to 75 per cent) in ‘DatacentreCo', a new private company that is to be established by the Cabinet Office to provide data centre co-location services.
The government intends to retain a significant minority shareholding in DatacentreCo, anticipating this to be a minimum of 25 per cent + 1 share.
According to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice, the operating environment has to be capable of housing computer infrastructure that initially handles information with the government's security classification of 'official' but there may be a future requirement for services that can handle data with 'secret' and 'top secret' security classifications.
The provision of 'secret' and 'top secret' services would be subject to separate security accreditation and classification, the Cabinet Office said.
It added that it required the energy, cooling, connectivity and physical security services necessary to provide data centre co-location services from at least two separate locations, subject to appropriate minimum separation requirements.
It expects the partner to have, among other things, a proven track record of delivering reliable, value for money, high quality, efficient, secure data centre facilities in the UK, experience of working successfully in a joint venture or partnership in the public or private sector, and the ability to grow a sustainable, profitable business. The chosen supplier will also have to provide some initial funding for DatacentreCo.
The main aims of the project for the government are to: increase efficiency and achieve better value for money; gain greater transparency over service use, costs and supplier margins; and, to increase agility by moving to scalable, service-based ‘utility' models.
The Cabinet Office claims that the deal could help UK growth by enabling a broader range of suppliers, including SMEs to compete and offer services.
The framework agreement will be open to a wide range of participating bodies and will provide a four-year period during which they may enter into call-off agreements to access the services of DatacentreCo.
The framework agreement will then continue for as long as a "call off agreement" remains in operation.
"The initial customers will comprise founder customers with the aim of increasing the number of government departments and wider UK public sector bodies which call off the services through the framework agreement," the notice reads.
Call off contracts under the framework agreement may be awarded for a period of up to five years, with options for customers to extend for a further two one-year periods.
The contract is covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and ranges between £50m and £700m.
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