The framework was expected to emerge during the first week of October 2014 and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has given no explanation for the delay.
Under the agreement, all public sector organisations will be able to procure both PSN compliant and non-PSN compliant communications services.
Such services include data access services, networks, wi-fi, gateways and related services, voice lines and minute bundles, mobile services including voice and data, pager and radio services, email, Internet service provision, content filtering services and more.
The framework agreement is divided into ten lots that will have up to 25 suppliers – a large increase on the frameworks that are being replaced.
Network Services is intended to be a more inclusive service designed for increased flexibility in comparison with its PSN Services and PSN Connectivity predecessors.
In September, 24N interview the trade body representing suppliers on the PSN framework PSNGB, which claimed Network Services is a step in the right direction.
According to marketing director Neil Mellor and managing director Mike Thomas, the agreement offers much needed flexibility and supports the government’s commitment to do more business with SMEs.
PSNGB has claimed it welcomes the news that Network Services is live after lobbying hard for changes that would prevent restriction of the supply base or add unnecessary cost.
It added that a reduction of special terms for the public sector will help industry to be able to supply enterprise services and the associated prices points without the heavily bespoke service delivery and service design requirements previously restricting the market.
“Encouragingly, these changes have been made and will benefit both the suppliers and the customers. However not all suggestions have been adopted and we will continue to lobby to improve the procurement environment for all parties,” claimed Thomas.
“CCS has done a solid job to date, the engagement with suppliers throughout early workshops was inclusive and transparent.
“While it has not listened to all of our recommendations, it has clearly taken on board a lot of our comments, which combined make for a better marketplace for the supplier and user community alike,” he added.
Thomas’ comments were echoed by PSNGB SME director Ian Fishwick, who said CCS has been “extremely constructive” in making it easier for SMEs to bid for the new framework.
The industry body asked the government procurement organisation to ensure that lots were split into “core” and “supplementary” products, preventing smaller firms from competing because they simply could not offer all the products they were previously required to.
“CSS has clearly listened to PSNGB as the new frameworks include ‘lots’ that have products split into ‘core’ products and supplementary products,” claimed Fishwick.
“This means that as long as you can provide the core products you can bid for that lot. The core products have been deliberately defined as the vanilla, commercial-grade products that represent the bulk of government spend in that area.
“We have agreed many other more minor adjustments to the documentation, such as lowering the value unpaid before a supplier can disconnect a customer, using industry ‘norms’ rather than government ‘specials’ for service levels and billing periods, but the biggest single change is the way that lots a structured.
“It now remains to be seen how many more SMEs will submit bids this time,” he added.