The National Archives’ telephone maintenance contract

FOI request reference: CAS-66809-F1V7W7
Publication date: February 2021

Request
I would like to request information under the Freedom of Information Act. The information that I require relates to a specific telephone maintenance contract.

The contract information sent by the organisation previously has now expired please can you provide me with a new update of the telephone maintenance contract:

Please can you send me the following contract information with regards to the organisation’s telephone system maintenance contract (VOIP or PBX, other) for hardware and Software maintenance and support if all the information is still the same besides the contracts dates please send just the new contract dates it would be much appreciated.

1. Contract Type: Maintenance, Managed, Shared (If so please state orgs)
2. Existing Supplier: If there is more than one supplier please split each contract up individually.
3. Annual Average Spend: The annual average spend for this contract and please provide the average spend over the past 3 years for each provider
4. Hardware Brand: The primary hardware brand of the organisation’s telephone system.
5. Number of telephone users:
6. Contract Duration: please include any extension periods.
7. Contract Expiry Date: Please provide me with the day/month/year.
8. Contract Review Date: Please provide me with the day/month/year.
9. Application(s) running on PBX/VOIP systems: Applications that run on the actual PBX or VOIP system. E.g. Contact Centre, Communication Manager.
10. Telephone System Type: PBX, VOIP, Lync etc
11. Contract Description: Please provide me with a brief description of the overall service provided under this contract.
12. Go to Market: How where these services procured, please provide me with either the tender notice or the framework reference number. Please specify if procured through other routes.
13. Contact Detail: Of the person from with the organisation responsible for each contract full Contact details including full name, job title, direct contact number and direct email address.

If the service support area has more than one provider for telephone maintenance, then can you please split each contract up individually for each provider.

If the contract is a managed service or is a contract that provides more than just telephone maintenance please can you send me all of the information specified above including the person from with the organisation responsible for that particular contract.

If the maintenance for telephone systems is maintained in-house, please can you provide me with:

1. Number of telephone Users:
2. Hardware Brand: The primary hardware brand of the organisation’s telephone system.
3. Application(s) running on PBX/VOIP systems: Applications that run on the actual PBX or VOIP system. E.g. Contact Centre, Communication Manager.
4. Contact Detail: Of the person from with the organisation responsible for telephone maintenance full Contact details including full name, job title, direct contact number and direct email address.

Also, if the contract is due to expire please provide me with the likely outcome of the expiring contract.

If this is a new contract or a new supplier please can you provide me with a short list of suppliers that bid on this service/support contract?
I’m happy to receive this information in an email.

Outcome
Some information provided.

Response
We are unable to provide you with some of the information you have requested, however, because it is covered by the exemption at section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act, which exempts information if disclosure would prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Some of this information is also covered by the exemption at section 43 (2) of the FOI Act, which exempts information if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice or harm the commercial interests of any person.

For further information about why these exemptions have been applied, please see the explanatory annex at the end of this letter.

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.
We are pleased to be able to provide this information to you.

Much of this information is still relevant and is published on our website and can be found in this link https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/freedom-of-information/information-requests/telephone-maintenance-contracts-at-the-national-archives/

As requested, we have provided information below that has changed since the publication of the information provided in the above link.

Number of telephone users:
637

Contract Expiry Date: Please provide me with the day/month/year.
Contract expiry date is Qtr 4 FY 2020-21

Information regarding specific start and end dates is exempt under section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act.

Also, if the contract is due to expire please provide me with the likely outcome of the expiring contract.
A new contract will be awarded to a new supplier
Information about all contracts with a value over £10,000 are published in the public domain, and can be found at https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/

If this is a new contract or a new supplier please can you provide me with a short list of suppliers that bid on this service/support contract?
This information is covered by the exemption at section 43 (2) of the FOI Act.

EXPLANATORY ANNEX    
Exemptions applied.

Section 31: Law Enforcement 
We are unable to provide you with information regarding software brands and specific contract start/end dates because this information is exempt from disclosure under section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act. Section 31 (1) (a) exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and the information must be released. In the FOI Act there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

The public interest has now been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 31 (1) (a) exemption. Considerations in favour of the release of the information included the principle that there is a public interest in transparency and accountability in disclosing information about government procedure and contracts. However, release of this information would make The National Archives more vulnerable to crime. The crime in question here would be a malicious attack on The National Archives’ computer systems. As such release of this information would be seen to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime by making The National Archives’ computer system more vulnerable to hacking. There is an overwhelming public interest in keeping government computer systems secure which would be served by non-disclosure. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It has therefore been decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion.

Further guidance on section 31 can be found here:
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1207/law-enforcement-foi-section-31.pdf  

Section 43 (2) – Commercial Interests
This section exempts information whose disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person. In this case, the exemption applies because it would be likely to harm or prejudice the commercial interests of our current and potential future suppliers.

Section 43 (2) is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and must be release. In the FOIA there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

Considerations in favour of the release of the information included The National Archives’ commitment to openness and transparency in its commercial activities, to allow public scrutiny and to demonstrate that public funds are being used in an efficient and effective way. Furthermore private sector companies engaging in commercial activities with the public sector must expect some information about those activities to be disclosed.

Considerations against disclosure included the recognition that disclosure is likely to provide information to direct competitors within the market that would create an imbalance and a commercial advantage to those competitors. Furthermore disclosure of this information is also likely to affect The National Archives’ ability to negotiate contracts in the future and consequently generate revenue from non-public funds. It is also considered that disclosure would be likely to deter potential bidders for future contracts from competing and sharing commercially sensitive information with us. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It was therefore decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion

Further guidance can be found at:
http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guidance_index/~/media/documents/library/Freedom_of_Information/Detailed_specialist_guides/AWARENESS_GUIDANCE_5_V3_07_03_08.ashx