PCs for MPs deal comes under fire

A deal to supply IT equipment worth £4,000 to every member of parliament has come under fire from MPs and procurement experts who...

A deal to supply IT equipment worth £4,000 to every member of parliament has come under fire from MPs and procurement experts who claim the contract was not competitively tendered.

The equipment is being supplied via the House of Commons under Computacenter's E-Iros supply contract with the Inland Revenue. However, Evesham.com, which manufactures Value computers, and Peter Luff, the company's local MP, claim that other manufacturers were unfairly denied a chance to bid to supply the equipment to MPs.

Luff raised the matter in the House of Commons and demanded that all manufacturers should have the right to bid to supply equipment to the Commons. "I am sorry that government members do not think that public procurement should be conducted openly," he said.

Computacenter will supply every MP with three PCs, a laptop and two printers/fax machines. The total value of the contract is £2.6m. All the PC equipment is manufactured by Compaq.

The E-Iros contract was signed in May last year and covers the provision of £30m of IT kit and £12m of telecoms equipment. The contract was advertised in 1999.

The Inland Revenue has a purchasing and service level agreement to fulfil the IT requirements of the House of Commons and the Department for Work and Pensions.

E-Iros is similar to the Treasury's G-Cat hardware procurement system, which has been praised by the Audit Commission for saving government departments millions of pounds. But critics claim it breaches European Commission rules on tendering of public sector procurement contracts.

Public procurement consultant Tim Williams said, "The [G-Cat] system makes this procurement completely non-transparent and excludes perfectly reputable firms from competing for these contracts."

Williams has complained to the European Commission, which is said to be investigating the legality of the G-Cat system. G-Cat appears to be neither approved or banned by EC supply directives governing the procurement of IT hardware and services.

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