The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has become the first government department to sign up for the early deployment of a public services network (PSN), in a deal with BT that is expected to save the department £8m per year by 2015.
The PSN, designed to become a "network of networks" across government, will be used across the MoJ’s courts and tribunals and take out around 30% of data and telephone service costs. The deal was signed ahead of the PSN framework agreement, with the roll-out expected to be complete by 2013.
The deal includes the use of BT’s 21st century network capability and Siemens IP telephony. “We are buying a PSN-compliant service ahead of time,” said Philip French, chief technology officer at the MoJ, speaking at a PSN conference organised by BT.
The core network will run at security Impact Level 2 (IL2), with an encryption overlay for more sensitive data marked at IL3.
In 2011, BT became the MoJ’s preferred supplier, with strong contributions from Siemens and Cisco. Previously, Logica and Atos had been the main contractors, with Atos having provided most of the network infrastructure.
French said it took a year to complete negotiations for the deal, as terms were agreed on how parties would work together, but more than anything else it was down to the regulatory context.
The process was not easy and involved satisfying a number of parties, including the Major Projects Authority crown representative, said French.
“There were moments when I did not feel like customer, nor particularly a member of the PSN board apparently steering the way,” he added.
“I’d been beaten up by the suppliers one morning and the Cabinet authorities the next, and I began to wonder if anyone noticed that every day we didn’t sign this, that was another £30,000 we needn’t have spent,” said French. “That it got through is to the credit of the people working on the PSN programme, but frankly it’s been too hard.”
The MoJ is tasked with reducing its ICT operating and running costs by £110m per year. The department consists of three large estates – prison, probation and courts – each with its own contracting arrangement and networks. “This is not the most economical way of doing things," said French.