Freesteel Blog » Becta infrastructure

Becta infrastructure

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 at 8:37 am Written by:

I got my FOI request answered and obtained the 132 page framework contract that was signed between Becta and 16 companies who are to supply ICT equipment to schools.

The purpose of this agreement is to make the procurement of this off-the-shelf computer equipment for schools from an official cartel of 16 companies legal under European competition law. They were chosen (the contract appears to say) because they were least likely to go insolvent and be unable to provide support services for this standard gear — which of course is unlikely with this guarenteed income.

When a school buys a set of such infrastructure equipment, they get no advice from Becta about what they should be pay for this stuff. They’re supposed to hold a mini-competition among a subset of these 16 suppliers in order to determine the price. There are all sorts of red herrings thrown in the mix, like particular support terms and the number of times the phone is allowed to ring before it gets picked up by their answer machine, but the big problem is there are no prices listed anywhere. That’s what the bureaucracy is covering up. It’s about money and profit. It’s about making a complicated system with the express effect of not providing value for money, because that’s what profits inevitably are.

We see the same thing with taxis in the city. What Becta provides here is like a taxi licensing system for a city where they then say “just to ask the driver what he’d like to charge for our ride, and then pick the best price one that comes past”. Funny how in many cities, like Liverpool, the taxi fares are regulated. Some of the taxis have extras, like TVs in the back, and maybe they get more rides by looking good and keeping the seats clean — all for the same price. No one gets ripped off and the taxis have to work to get their money. The advisers who drew up this system must have known of these economic effects, but advised against it probably because they didn’t like this effect.

Anyhow, here is the letter I got back from my request, and here is the 132 page contract itself.


  • 1. Freesteel » Blog Ar&hellip replies at 20th March 2007, 11:56 am :

    […] services. So it goes. Dear Sir, I remain in pursuit of the pricing agreement called a “Service Order” apparently signed in July 2006 whereby Northgate Info […]

  • 2. Freesteel » Blog Ar&hellip replies at 7th September 2007, 4:34 pm :

    […] tober about public procurement of IT. Oh dear. Better do a bit of homework. Last year I blogged about an FOI request I had got back from Becta about their framework agre […]

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