Print frameworks promise much, but do they deliver?
By Simon Nias Friday, 06 July 2012
The so-called Wider Public Sector Print Services Framework Agreement is the latest in a long line of public sector print contracts to follow the trend towards appointing print managers rather than printers as the primary suppliers.
Looking at the two lots, the four BPO companies will pick up the lion’s share of the £100m-£150m contract, while the six printers on the operational print framework will compete for around 20% of the total. The zenith of this trend was last year’s £250m central government print contract awarded to Williams Lea and trumpeted as replacing some 140 separate contracts.
This marks a departure from the Pan-Government Collaborative Framework Agreement awarded more than five years ago to some 60 print businesses, including 42 SMEs, which typified another Westminster trend.
That contract was tendered by the Office of Government Commerce, since absorbed into the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group.
Whenever one of these bodies has awarded such a framework in the past it has been heralded as a means of consolidating spend to get better value for money for the taxpayer. However, judging by the number of print tenders still knocking around, public sector buyers, at whom they are aimed, tend to ignore them.
In fact, this latest framework is billed as being available to public sector educational establishments, NHS bodies, local authorities and the police, which – among others – are the same bodies already served by the Department for Education’s £87m six-year print framework established in June 2009.
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