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West Midlands PSN signs contract with Virgin Media Business

November 18, 2013

Today Solihull Council, as the lead authority for the West Midlands Public Service Network (WMPSN), signed a five year contract with Virgin Media Business.

What is it and who’s it for?

It’s a computer network contract that delivers material savings to the initial partners and great savings opportunities to any public service organisation in the West Midlands. That’s Health, Fire, Local Authority, Third Sector, Police and others based anywhere on the following map.

WMPSN Geography

The WMPSN geographical area

The official Press Release is attached here:

How did we arrive at this decision?

The journey to this contract signature began about 5 years ago with the initial strategy for a national “network of networks” for the public sector to securely share information. There are many options for how to buy a PSN network. The one that we have chosen is to run a price and quality competition based on the Government Procurment Solutions (GPS) framework for PSN Connectivity.

The governance to reach this decision included an open invitation for any interested party in the West Mids to participate and form a Management Board. Socitm West Midlands ran some options workshops and Digital Birmingham invested in some consultancy to get the requirement clearly shaped up.

The organisations that most urgently needed to replace their Wide Area Network (WAN) contracts came to form the core Management Board and oversee the ITT. This included Solihull MBC, West Midlands Police, Warwickshire CC (and all the Warwickshire districts), Worcestershire CC, Hoople (Hereford CC and the Wye Valley NHS Trust) and Birmingham City Council. Many other organisations across the West Mids have expressed interest and the contractual membership of the WMPSN is expected to grow quickly.

In the early days Tonino Ciuffini (CIO at Warwickshire CC) and myself agreed that we would divide two large projects between us. He would oversee the regional Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Superfast Broadband (BDUK) initiative, and I would oversee the WMPSN. Tonino and colleagues such as John Parmiter of Warwickshire have delivered excellent work with BDUK for the region, freeing up capacity for Solihull to focus on WMPSN. At Solihull, technical lead John Lees and Programme Manager Catherine Coulthard have reciprocated with excellent leadership delivering the WMPSN contract.

The WMPSN Management Board is chaired by myself (as Solihull MBC’s CIO) and reports to a Programme Board. The Programme Board is chaired by Solihull MBC’s CEO, Mark Rogers – a decision recommended by the WM Metropolitan Authority CEO group and welcomed by the stakeholder group.

Following Due Diligence, the Management Board and Programme board agreed to place the contract with Virgin Media Business who had provided the most compelling prices and quality of solution.

Contractual Savings “Levers”

Although no organisation is obliged to join the WMPSN, it is a proposition available to consider. Most organisations will benefit from cost reduction by joining the WMPSN.

As well as the immediate savings delivered on contract signature, there are “levers” in the contract to further drive down costs.

  • As more organisations join, further volume discounts are applied to all member organisations’ annual charges.
  • Also, as the technology market changes over the life of the contract, benchmarking can be used to match best prices.

Security compliance

There are challenges ahead, particularly with ensuring PSN security compliance and business agility. With good engagement from the cabinet office, across the sector and from suppliers, I am confident that we will resolve this tension and deliver a succesful national PSN.

The long term – Transformation

The PSN is about shared information and shared working across the public sector. As the WMPSN rolls out, the Management Board plans to be looking for further opportunities for efficiency savings from closer collaborative working.

Also, BDUK and the WMPSN are anticipated to deliver reciprocal cost efficiencies for each other, as both projects roll out. The Management Boards will be keeping a close eye on these opportunities.

The big long term benefits are in the transformative shared interworking between local public service agencies and the efficiencies possible with this. I’m looking forward to being proud of playing a part in making that possible.

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