The Ministry of Justice has failed to find a suitable bidder for the provision of mobile phone detection equipment in prisons.
The MoJ advertised a four-year framework contract for the kit last year, which was worth a relatively modest £400,000.
The kit would have been used across the prison system in England and Wales, to tackle the increasing problem of criminals directing their outside operations while locked up.
Only recently, it was reported a prisoner had ordered the fatal shooting of a man outside using an illicit mobile smuggled into the prison.
But the MoJ now says no contract will be awarded as it did not receive any "compliant" bids in response to its tender invitation.
It is not clear whether potential suppliers did not come up to scratch on the technology they were offering, or whether the MoJ was not offering enough cash for suppliers to satisfy the bidding criteria.
The MoJ said it will start a new procurement process for a mobile detection system in the future. Bid watchers will be looking to see if the MoJ ups the value of the contract.