The BBC has drawn up a shortlist of eight bidders for its IT services contract.
They are Computer Sciences, Fujitsu, Electronic Data Systems, The Capita Group, Accenture, IBM, LogicaCMG and Hewlett-Packard.
The BBC technology group includes BBC Technology Direction, the organisation responsible for buying and specifying technology services to approximately 30,000 desktops, and BBC Technology, the IT arm that delivers content and technology to the BBC as well as to third parties such as Direct TV and ESPN.
The winning bidder will be required to buy the technology group and keep its 1,400 employees. The Technology Direction group, numbering only about 50 employees, will stay with the BBC.
John Varney, chief technology officer of BBC Direction, said while offshoring application development will be permitted, everything else - including services, help desks, and network support - must stay within the UK.
"The BBC is part of the UK's cultural heritage. It is important that services be delivered from inside the UK and the future of the 1,400 staff must be assured," he added.
By outsourcing IT, the BBC expected to realise annual savings of between £20m and £30m. It is costing the BBC about £203m to deliver all services that include IT, telephony broadcast engineering and satellite.
Varney said that there were a number of factors that contribute to the projected cost savings in outsourcing its operations. Among the factors was a consolidation of networks and servers. At present, 800 servers are distributed throughout the UK. The commoditisation of IT platforms also plays a key role in going to outsourced providers as well as savings in payroll.
"We can get much greater benefit from the huge economies of scale than a third party can deliver," Varney said.
BBC is expected to announce the final three bidders by the first week of May.
Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld