Industry Comments to consultation for HSCN Access (RM3825) Framework.

Updated 14th Augist 2017

Responses from Crown Commercial Service are due by 25th August 2017.

 

Comment 1

CONTRACT START DATE

In the Contract Call-Off Agreement clause B.5 states that the contract starts on date of signature. It can take up to 6 months to get a circuit installed and we have to sign 3 year contracts with suppliers such as Openreach to get 3 year pricing. If the customer ceases the contract 3 years after the signature date then the circuit has only been ‘live’ for 2 years 6 months (in this example) and the supplier will be left to pay the network for 6 months that they cannot charge to the customer.

We need to recognise that this is a network framework and the customers must be charged in the same way as the networks charge the suppliers.

Comment 1 response

To be answered

Comment 2

TERMINATION WITHOUT CAUSE

In the Contract Call-Off Agreement clause B.38.6 states that the customer can terminate without cause by giving 30 days’ notice at any time after the end of year 1. If the customer has signed a 3 or 5 year contract and walks away at the start of year 2 then the supplier faces charges from the network for the balance of the term. This could bankrupt a small company. Any termination clause without cause should either be removed as unreasonable or carry an obligation to pay an appropriate termination fee

Comment 2 Response

To be answered

Comment 3

SUMMARY OF TERMS & CONDITIONS

Some of the RM3825 suppliers will also be supplying services under RM1045 and we are keen to ensure that we are not providing similar services under different terms and conditions. We understand that new clauses will need to be added to enact the Dynamic Purchasing System but apart from that we cannot understand why any new clauses would be added. It may be that some of the RM1045 clauses could be deleted from this framework as they may not be needed. This whole area needs a detailed discussion with industry.

Comment 3 Response

To be answered

Comment 4

Our starting position is that the terms and conditions should be identical to the NSF terms and conditions (barring some potential deletions of terms that clearly do apply in this context).  This is the only way candidate supplier organisations will be able to secure executive approval for the DPS/Framework in the shortest possible time.

If there are other considerations, such as structural terms in support of a DPS, these will need to thoroughly examined, and so once again, I advocate working on these in open forum with my colleagues from across industry.

Comment 4 response

To be answered

Comment 5

Before the launch of RM1045 CCS issued draft documentation, a process which we would like to see replicated here. Innopsis then organised weekly webinars for industry so that they could provide feedback to CCS, hopefully it is not too late in the day for this to be arranged. As an Innopsis member we value the expertise and input of our trade body in an area of proven worth

Comment 5 Response

To be answered

Comment 6

The turnaround time of 10 days to respond to a customer tender can only be achieved by adopting a common set of terms and conditions including SLA’s, reporting requirements and common core service definitions. In simple terms, unless the customer wants to purchase what is available off the shelf and productised, there will be no time to apply governance to an offer.

Comment 6 response

To be answered

Comment 7

The process, timescales and governance for joint and leaving a Dynamic Procurement System is unclear XXXXX cannot comment until more detail is provided. When is this expected?

Comment 7 Response

To be answered

Comment 8

The terms and conditions for RM1045 should be considered against a Dynamic Procurement System, but only when more information is defined regarding how a Dynamic Procurement System would be implemented for HSCN services.

Comment 8 response

To be answered

Comment 9

The requirement for Off-Shoring of customer information should be at the discretion of the customer and not mandated across all services and all the framework.

Comment 9 response

Comment 10

STANDARD SUPPLIER QUESTIONNAIRES (SSQ’S)

We have received several SSQ’s recently and the first thing to note is that they are definitely not standard. There are common elements as you would expect covering the standard items that need answering under procurement law eg accounts, DUNS numbers, anti-corruption assurances etc. However; SSQ’s also tend to wander into lots of other areas as well. We would welcome a dialogue to ensure that the bare minimum requirement be agreed for SSQ’s.

Comment 10 Response

To be answered

Comment 11

DPS SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

We cannot understand why any DPS specific questions are needed when the HSCN Obligations Framework goes into immense detail and proving your compliance with this is a pre-requisite to getting on the RM3825 Framework

Comment 11 Response

To be Answered

Comment 12

DIRECT AWARDS AND CATALOGUES

The Government regulations on Dynamic Purchasing Systems do not allow direct awards. The whole concept of a catalogue under RM1045 is that buyers can choose a catalogue item and then place a direct award. We are therefore confused as to how direct awards under catalogues sits with a Dynamic Purchasing Framework and would welcome detailed discussions on how this will work in practice.

Comment 12 Response

To be answered

Comment 13

Thank-you to both you and your colleagues for providing early visibility into the current options perceived by Crown Commercial Services for the market realisation of RM3825.

Whilst we agree that the two clearest procurement mechanisms are either a Framework or a Dynamic Purchasing System, we can see additional possibilities within these structures – not included within your summary – which may achieve the outcomes desired.

We feel that the best way to review the options (not just ours – I’m sure my colleagues across industry will have had some ideas too), and gain broad agreement, would be through dialogue with Industry.  I do not presume to know the process by which you aim to collect, collate, analyse, and incorporate feedback on your RM3825 options, but I am concerned that if it is not conducted in an open and fully collaborative manner (similar to the mechanism employed by NHS Digital for HSCN) we may arrive at a less than ideal outcome, or one that might include some missteps reminiscent of the run up to RM1045.

My first recommendation then is that this exercise, the market definition and realisation of RM3825, be a joint activity between CCS and industry.  I would suggest that Innopsis is an ideal vehicle to structure the activity as they have repeatedly demonstrated both capability and competence here.

Of the areas covered in your presentation, I recommend the following topics (most of which flow naturally from one to the other) be discussed in open forum:

  • Qualifying questions
  • Catalogues, and their procurement process
  • Dynamic Procurements vs Frameworks
  • Terms and conditions

Comment 13 response

To be answered

Comment 14

Qualifying Questions

We support the goal of a common set of qualifying questions, but note that there does not appear to be a ‘standard’ set of questions. Some suppliers are likely to find some ‘common’ questions more challenging than others and so we recommend discussing the candidate questions in advance.

For example: A larger company may struggle to comply with a request for a parent company guarantee due to the scale of such a request, whereas a smaller company may have no difficulty.  As a counterpoint, a smaller company may find an arbitrary credit score difficult to comply with, whereas a larger company may not.

As you will be aware, the HSCN compliance process incorporates a rigorous and wide ranging set of obligations that are applied to every suppler and are tested by NHS Digital.  Could this be sufficient qualification in and of itself?

Comment 14 response

To be answered

Comment 15

Catalogues and their Procurement Process

We note that a DPS does not lend itself to a fully functioning catalogue that can be easily procured from (for example: G-Cloud and the NSF Direct Award).  Therefore, we do not see the value in having a catalogue should a DPS be selected.

We also note that many customers and suppliers have embraced the catalogue and direct award model and so we recommend this be discussed in open forum to ensure that we are not giving up on an important marketplace innovation by accident.

Comment 15 Response

To be answered

Comment 16

Dynamic Procurements vs Frameworks

The selection of the purchasing model is critical and there are many potential considerations that must be bottomed out.  We feel strongly that this should be done now, and in open forum, to ensure that any (and hopefully all) potential pitfalls can be identified and then corrected.

In particular should a DPS be selected as the best way of bringing this to market, there will be a number of structural elements that must be baked into the terms of the DPS.  These too will be the source of potential pitfalls

Comment 16 Response

To be answered

Comment 17

Dynamic Purchasing System

The HSCN Obligations document goes into a great detail and proving your compliance with this could easily contribute to getting on the RM3825 Framework, saving time and resource.

Comment 17 response

To be answered

Comment 18

Direct Award

We are a great proponent of the Direct Award mechanism and the opportunities for cost and resource saving it affords our public sector customers, the Government regulations on Dynamic Purchasing Systems don’t appear to allow direct awards. The whole concept of a catalogue under RM1045 is that buyers can choose a catalogue item and then place a direct award so how will this work in practice? We shouldn’t really be offering DA via RM1045, but not through RM3825, this would be unfair to the suppliers who are only on the DPS

Comment 18 Response

To be answered

Comment 19

Framework Terms and Conditions

Many of the RM3825 suppliers will also be supplying services under RM1045, certainly in the early life of the framework and we would like to make sure that we are not providing similar services under different terms and conditions. Obviously, we realise that new clauses will need to be added for the Dynamic Purchasing System aspect but apart from that we don’t really understand why many further new clauses would need to be added.

Comment 19 Response

To be answered

Comment 20

The number of participant suppliers per framework reduces the revenue per supplier, therefore the entry costs for a place on a Framework must be low.

Comment 20 Response

To be answered

Comment 21

A DPS will require a capable administration function or a high degree of automation to facilitate the suppliers and procurements. Do CCS feel they have that capability or do they intend to outsource that functionality?

Comment 21 Response

To be answered

Comment 22

A DPS service run on a multiple number of procurement portals with different structures, log-ins, administrations and alerting methods will run a high risk of failure. XXXX would like to suggest that only one procurement portal would be used for all procurements and all parties.

Comment 22 Response

To be answered

Comment 23

Categorisation of Services within a DPS is important. No detail has been provided and so XXXXX will comment the this is available.

Comment 23 Response

To be answered

Comment 24

The Direct Award capability of NSF (RM1045) has been very welcome. XXXXX are reluctant to see that capability be lost. Further discussion of how a DPS could meet the customer need is required.

Comment 24 Response

To be answered

Comment 25

The definition of Access and Overlay Services is generic and does not reflect the way customers think about, and buy, services. There needs to be flexibility where the two areas can be combined, if required, without separate contracts on separate frameworks/DPS.

Definition of the service boundary around an Access Service and an Overlay Service plus the corresponding Obligations Framework, is ill-defined and needs clarity

Comment 25 response

To be answered

Comment 26

Separation between VPN and Access is confusing and will not serve the customer requirements. VPN services should be available with and without Access.

Comment 26 response

To be answered

Comment 27

Overlay Services should have the same obligations for multi supplier service management as Access services.

Comment 27 Response

To be answered

Comment 28

Network Management (SDN) capabilities should be a service that can be included with Access and without. The Obligations Framework should apply to all Management Services.

Comment 28 Response

To be answered

Comment 29

The feedback process is ill-defined. There appears to be no governance, focus or direction. xxxxx would welcome a more structured approach in conjunction with the rest of industry.

Comment 29 Response

To be answered

Additional Comments

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