Tech

Paperless what? Pah! UK government looks to ink £900m in printer deals

Many expected an increase in paperwork after the UK left the EU, but £900m on printers seems bit much.

Still, Crown Commercial Service – the UK’s central government buying team which takes a 1 per cent commission on sales in procurements it manages – is launching a framework encouraging suppliers to chase that sizable currency carrot.

The aim is to create a “pan-government collaborative agreement” for the provision of multifunctional devices (MFDs), and managed print and content services. The deal is set to be available to a broad spectrum of central government and public-sector bodies including those in local government, health, police, fire and rescue, and education. It could also be used by charities and the UK devolved administrations.

But before printer vendors and the legions of resellers get their inkjets all overheated, the announcement is a prior information notice, and indicative of only what might be available.

Nonetheless, the package is divided into four lots. Lot 1 is for the provision of basic print management software, maintenance, and support. Lot 2 covers hardware devices and consumables, software products and document workflow, as well as cloud hosting and SaaS printing solutions. Lot 3 includes MFDs, software managed services, managed print services and software products, and document workflow solutions. Lot 4 addresses print consultancy services, managed print and content management audits, and consultancy services. Some of the categories repeat between lots.

The UK government has been here before although possibly not to the tune of a £900m framework for printers.

In 2012, the government put together a three-year IT Hardware and Services (ITH&S) framework worth £4bn, but print hardware was just one of 12 lots, which also included client devices and servers. Insight Direct, Computacenter, Viglen, Misco, and Dell won places on the printer framework at that time.

Whatever the outcome of the current tender, the UK government will hope to avoid the pitfalls revealed by their Irish counterparts. In 2019, the Irish parliament came under fire for spending €808,000 on a printer that was so big it couldn’t even fit through its doors. A further €230,000 spending was needed to bash in walls and take off doorframes in the historic parliament building before the massive machine could be squeezed in. ®


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