Tussell Briefing: Detention centres, offloading student loans and more

Welcome to the Tussell Briefing, covering the most interesting stories in public procurement from the last few weeks.

1. Four migrant detention centres seek new management 

The Home Office have published a £300m pre-information notice (PIN) for the operational management of four migrant detention centres across the UK. Brook House & Tinsley House are currently managed by G4S; Campsfield House by Mitie and Dungavel House by American private prison contractor GEO Group.

Following recent controversy with G4S at HMP Birmingham, will they be trusted again with the management of these detention centres?

2. Just how much is the Student Loan book worth?  

The Department for Education are hoping to find an organisation to use ‘innovative methodologies’ to better predict future graduate earnings, with the aim of improving their estimates of the value of Student Loans. The National Audit Office have accused the government of selling off loans worth £3.5bn for £1.7bn, prompting an ongoing Parliamentary Inquiry.

With potentially hundreds of billions in outstanding loans still to be sold off, will the company chosen to conduct this research help prevent another government fire sale?

3. TfL renew £300m+ Thales PFI contract without competition

The French engineering firm, Thales, currently operate radio and transmission services for the London Underground thanks to a 20-year PFI contract awarded in 1999. This contract was due to expire next year, but TfL claim urgently needed upgrades necessitate the uncontested renewal of this contract for up to 7 years, costing £300m+. Is this yet another example of private firms putting the government on the back foot? 

4. Brexit continues to be lucrative for consulting firms 

Brexit continues to provide a steady source of income for consultancy firms, with Arcadis and EY both being recently awarded contracts to support the government on Brexit-related policy issues. Arcadis will be advising the ‘Functional Support Team’ at the Cabinet Office, which tackles some of the most complex Brexit-related policy issues. The contract, worth nearly £240k, runs for six months until Jan 2019.

5. House of Lords seeking sexual harassment prevention training 

Following various scandals in Parliament regarding bullying and sexual harassment, the Houses of Parliament are offering £250k to an organisation who can provide training on sexual harassment and bullying awareness and prevention to MPs, peers and their staff. This follows the recommendations of the Working Group on an Independent Complaints & Grievance Policy. This is the second tender regarding this topic posted by a Parliamentary body this year, although there have been no further awards as of yet.

6. Fujitsu testing the waters for a UK early warning mobile alerts system 

Fujitsu have been awarded £100k by the CCS to provide evidence of the capability of UK mobiles to support an early warning system. Mobile alert systems are used extensively in many other countries to provide early warnings of severe weather conditions, gas leakages or other threats to public safety, through mobile data or SMS alerts. Trials of such a system were conducted in the UK in 2014 proved very popular – 85% of the public approving its use – but no action was taken. Why is the UK lagging behind other similar countries where systems like this are routine? 

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