Council outsources IT in £47m deal

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COUNCIL chiefs have signed a ground-breaking contract to outsource IT services as part of the emergency budget caused by Government spending cuts.

The seven-year-long £47m contract in partnership with neighbouring Bolton Council will see 46 staff transfer to private sector facilitating company Agilisys along with Updata, which also specialises in setting up and managing public sector IT networks.

This contract includes local and regional networks, telephones across all the councils operations, service desk, application support, plus desktop and midrange services.

The network infrastructure will begin in June, with the whole system expected to be fully deployed by next March, connecting more than 260 sites.

Wigan’s head of strategic ICT partnerships Alison Hughes revealed the council would save more than £7m throughout the duration of the contract – which will run up to 2020 – in comparison to the expenditure with its incumbent networking supplier.

And she said it came at no extra cost to what the council was already spending.

It is seen as highly significant for Wigan because the local authority hadn’t previously outsourced any services to the private sector.

She said: “We had a creaking infrastructure that needed attention, expertise and support to get it up to scratch.

“For us there were not a lot of alternatives, as we were struggling to keep the lights on.

“We had limited staffing resource and the demands were great. Everything was done in a sequential order and so taking a long time.”

Ms Hughes said that full due diligence had been taken in finding the right partnership.

Wigan’s schools will also benefit form the new arrangement, she said, though better connectivity.

Currently some classrooms are paying for a 100Mb/s connection, but only using 10MB of the available bandwidth. The network will be the backbone for shared email, firewall, content filtering and Microsoft SharePoint.

While a single integrated voice-over-IP system will also be deployed, set to replace multiple fixed telecoms lines.

Agilisys will be responsible for the Local Area Network (LAN) environment and Updata will be responsible for maintaining the core infrastructure and commissioning and decommissioning of new sites.

With a regional office in neighbiouring St Helens, Agilisys is seen as one of the UK’s most innovative IT and business process service providers.

Working for both the public and private sector, it has earned a strong reputation within local and central government, healthcare, and financial services.

Its expertise is designing, building and operating an integrated portfolio of IT and business process services meeting the needs of public and private sector clients through “cost-effective shared service platforms”.

It currently employs over 1,900 staff in the UK.

Updata Infrastructure UK provides Internet and broadband connectivity services primarily to public sector markets.

Based in Surrey with offices also in Wales, it was only founded in 2003 but already has revenues of £20m per annum.

It was founded to build systems after the deregulartion of UK telephone exhanges.

And it has grown because of an increasing number of contracts with local authorities, education authorities and health service providers around the country.