Tech

UK’s Home Office dangles £32m for application support on comms-snooping network

The UK’s Home Office is on the hunt for a supplier to help support applications running on its counter-terrorism data network to fulfil a contract that could be worth up to £32m.

The National Communications Data Service (NCDS) gives security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies legal access to communications data.

In a tender document released last week, the Home Office said it was looking to engage suppliers early before it puts together a contract to “facilitate the delivery of its communications data applications.”

As the applications are hosted in AWS, it also needs potential suppliers to manage that infrastructure.

The procurement, which is set to use an existing government framework to run a mini-competition, is looking for application support or a DevOps solution as well as application lifecycle maintenance to offer minor enhancements.

Within legal requirements, the NCDS works with telecommunications operators to enable the retention, disclosure, acquisition, and use of comms data. Its current platform has been operational since 2014 and is an “invaluable tool to law enforcement and counter-terrorism” as well as other agencies, according to the tender notice. It is currently moving to the AWS platform, which the successful bidder is set to support.

The data is supposed to help police in most investigations including serious crime, volume crime, and counter-terrorism, and has “supported saving many lives,” the tender document said.

It said the NCDS “may decide that it requires an organisation with an innovative approach, a highly proactive mind set and the desire to constantly seek better ways of delivering success.”

To win the competition, knowledge of the technological landscape may be more important than experience working with the intelligence or public sector, the Home Office said.

The contract is expected to be for two years, with the possibility of two one-year extensions. A formal contract notice is expected to appear in November this year.

In December last year, the Home Office handed a £30m contract to engineering and IT outfit Leidos to help smooth the “efficiency” with which government agents can access telecoms data.

The NCDS’s so-called Agile Data Retention and Disclosure Services – known by the acronym “ARDS” – is set to “allow telecom operators to be on-boarded and off-boarded rapidly” providing services the Home Office hoped would support “collaborative ways of working” with telcos and tech suppliers. ®


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