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What does the launch of the TSA mean for the public sector?

IP&IT analysis: Following the announcement of the new Technology Services Agreement (TSA) for government and other public sector customers, Andrew Joint, together with associate Rupam Davé, consider the background to this agreement, who it affects and how it will work in practice.

Original news

New IT agreement for public sector organisations, LNB News 29/05/2015 55

Government and other public sector organisations needing a scalable solution for IT-managed service requirements will benefit from a newly launched TSA. The new scheme aims to help customers break down large single supplier contracts into a number of smaller contracts, with the intention of supporting growth in the UK by opening up the market to small businesses.

What is the new TSA and what is it intended to achieve?

The TSA (contract ID RM1058) is a new agreement developed by the Crown Commercial Service in collaboration with the Government Digital Service under which public sector organisations can run mini competitions to source IT-managed services from a number of different pre-appointed suppliers.

The TSA's primary purpose is to provide technology services to the public sector. The anticipated total spend through the term of the TSA is estimated at between £100m to £200m.

Each individual grouping of services that a customer may procure under the TSA is known as a 'lot'. The lots under the TSA are as follows:

  • Lot 1--help desk/service desk
  • Lot 2--desktop support
  • Lot 3--network management
  • Lot 4--network and content security
  • Lot 5--infrastructure platform, maintenance and support
  • Lot 6--audit services and asset management
  • Lot 7--it infrastructure transition services and delivery
  • Lot 8--service integration/service integrator
  • Lot 9--disaster recovery/ business continuity
  • Lot 10--back-up and data services
  • Lot 11--asset disposal

Further information and a copy of the TSA itself can be found here.

Is the agreement replacing a previous version and, if so, what and why?

The TSA replaces the IT Managed Services Agreement (Contract ID RM717) which is due to expire on 5 August 2015. It should be noted that the Crown Commercial Service has indicated that its intention is to consider terminating RM717 before this date.

Is the agreement replacing a previous version and, if so, what and why?

The TSA replaces the IT Managed Services Agreement (Contract ID RM717) which is due to expire on 5 August 2015. It should be noted that the Crown Commercial Service has indicated that its intention is to consider terminating RM717 before this date.

The Crown Commercial Services has stated that the benefits of the TSA are:

  • reduced timescales and costs for the procurement of services
  • ease of use
  • choice of suppliers
  • alternative solutions to longer term contracts
  • a multivendor supply base
  • fully compliant with EU procurement regulation
  • assured supplier standards
  • pre-defined terms and conditions
  • supplier collaboration

Who are the players?


All UK public sector organisations are able to use the TSA to put lots out to tender. These organisations include:

  • central government departments and their arm's length bodies and agencies
  • non departmental public bodies
  • local authorities
  • health sector
  • fire and rescue services
  • police forces
  • national parks authorities
  • third sector and charities in the UK
  • devolved administrations, and
  • educational establishments in England and Wales


85 different suppliers have been appointed to provide services under the TSA (see the A-Z by supplier here). This list of appointed suppliers includes specialist suppliers (including SMEs) that can provide services under an individual lot together with other suppliers who can provide multiple services across a number of lots.

How does this fit generally into the government IT procurement framework?

The TSA was developed to complement the government's ICT Strategy of March 2011, and it supports the government's core objectives of:

  • reducing waste and project failure
  • stimulating economic growth, and
  • using ICT to enable and deliver change

The government regards the TSA as an enabler for public sector organisations to take significant steps towards the government's 'Digital by Default' agenda (more information about which can be found here).

How will this work and do you think it is likely to achieve its aim?

The TSA is likely to enable more public sector organisations to procure technology services in a streamlined and efficient manner by allowing each such organisation to procure technology services by running appropriate mini-competitions for tendered lots. It remains to be seen, however, whether many of the SMEs that have been appointed under the TSA will successfully win contracts in their own right (historically many SMEs have found that they are more likely to undertake public sector work as subcontractors for larger suppliers rather than as prime contractors in their own right).

What are the trends in this area?

Customers have historically preferred to use a sole-sourcing model under which a single supplier provides all of a customer's IT services (this approach allows the customer to have 'one throat to choke' if things go wrong). The market has moved away from the single supplier model in recent years, and the approach adopted by the TSA resonates with this modern trend for customers to use multi-sourcing as their preferred contracting model.

The TSA accords with the multi-sourcing trend by:

  • including a lot for service integration (which in the past has often been undertaken by the customer itself)
  • allowing for the customer to use a collaboration agreement to ensure that its different suppliers work together, and
  • including a large number and variety of suppliers

Interviewed by Alex Heshmaty. This article was first published on Lexis®PSL IP & IT on 9 June 2015. Click for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.

For further information, please contact Andrew Joint or Rupam Davé.