The UK government has signed a £500 million contract for data centre facilities with Crown Hosting Data Centres without putting the contract out for tender, Computer Business Review has reported.

The report cites a notice of procurement, which states that ‘any operator must for the sake of the country’s CNI (critical national infrastructure) have the capability and capacity from the “word go” to provide the expected services seamlessly without increased risk to the customers.’

This is because the facilities are required to be fully up and running by March 16, just two weeks before the UK is due to leave the European Union.

The decision may soon come under further scrutiny though, given that there is now talk of a further extension to the Brexit talks, following Theresa May’s decision to take control of talks and the demotion of the Department for Exiting the EU.

The notice states that ‘in order to ensure consistent delivery of data centre facilities and services to government departments … Crown Commercial Services require services to be delivered as follows:

‘Provision of readily available multiple, secure campus environments … able to deliver data centre services at SECRET, TOP SECRET and above on the same campus; in place and ready for as for use on 16.3.2019.’

UK government requirements

It also requires ‘readily available multiple, secure campus environments’ that meet UK government accreditation standards by the same date.

The decision, it appears, was ultimately taken because of the amount of UK government infrastructure already invested in Crown Hosting Data Centres, and the timeframe required to arrange the necessary secure environments.

Though governments offering up large IT contracts without competitive tenders will doubtless be unpopular with some, commentators have suggested that in this instance it is the correct decision.

Mark Hastings, Director of Public Sector at Rainmaker, speaking to Computer Business Review, said: “On this occasion, this seems a sensible framework extension. It is unlikely that any other provider could handle the required level of data and security hosting in the required timescales and at an acceptable level of risk.”

The Stack recently wrote about Six Degrees adding more public service offerings to its portfolio through Ark Data Centres, which is the company behind Crown Hosting Data Centres, together with the Cabinet Office.