Olha Rohulya - Fotolia

Rural Payments Agency plans to issue second-wave technology tender

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) looks to procure several systems – including an identity management system, infrastructure and HR system

The Rural Payments Agency, responsible for the rural payments digital service, is testing the market ahead of buying a range of technologies and systems to support the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The first generation of IT systems for CAP expires at the end of September 2016 and the RPA is now looking for a range of new systems to continue the programme.

“The 2nd Generation Procurement (2GP) project has been initiated to define scope and procure new contracts which will be predominantly for the support, maintenance and hosting of applications with limited development capability going forward,” said the agency.

Part of the CAP delivery programme includes the rural payments digital service, which aims to deliver a digital system through which farmers would apply for payments under the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

The service has been has been critisised by the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after it went live in 2015 despite failing an assessment by the Government Digital Service (GDS) – resulting in farmers having to resort to pen and paper to fill out their applications.

Earlier in 2016, MPs in the House of Commons called for guarantees that the rural payments IT system will be able to cope with increased pressure and won’t fail again when farmers apply for their payments.

The prior information notice (PIN) said the RPA envisions four to five lots, which includes a customer portal with applications such as rural payments and an RPA identity check.

Read more about IT at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

"This portal validates and confirms the customer's access and is used to record customer details. The application is largely bespoke using Java and linked to an Oracle back end,” the PIN said.

The rural payments digital service aims to use Gov.uk’s Verify, an online identity verification scheme, to process claims.

Other services in the lots include a land management system, hosting and infrastructure and a policy engine.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has two IT programmes; its UnITy programme, which focuses on “replacing the wide wide variety of ICT services currently provided to Defra (including delivery agencies) and the Environment Agency by IBM and CAP Gemini respectively”; and its CAP delivery programme.

While both programmes are set to procure ICT services, the time scales and scope differ to varying degrees. "They will continue to run as separate programmes, but with the aim of alignment at the earliest stage," said the PIN.

"The planning assumption is that the services procured under the 2nd generation CAP delivery programme procurement will transition into the wider UnITy scope/services at the end of the respective contracted period."

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