Serco challenges legality of Glasgow City Council deal

glasgow skylineOutsourcing company Serco has issued a legal challenge to Glasgow City Council in response to its plan to move to CGI Group for its IT and digital services.

The council has indicated a preference for CGI with the aim of using the company’s existing deal with City of Edinburgh Council as a framework, thereby avoiding a competitive procurement process.

Serco has responded with a challenge to the legality of the move, claiming it would be illegal under Scottish law.

A company spokesperson confirmed to UKAuthority that it has already lodged the complaint at the Court of Sessions, the supreme civil court of Scotland.

The company currently provides relevant services to the council under the ACCESS project, which is due to come to an end in March of next year.

Liz Benison, chief executive of Serco’s UK and Europe Local and Regional Government division, said: “We have consistently said that we believe a decision to directly award the contract to CGI without an open competitive process would be illegal under Scottish law. Despite six months of attempted engagement with council officers, we were not given any convincing legal justification for the direct award, leaving us with no choice but to legally challenge the decision.

“By refusing to hold an open and fair competition, the previous administration failed to ensure they were getting the best IT service and the best value for money for Glasgow’s taxpayers. We would urge the new administration to reconsider the decision and hold a competitive process in which Glasgow residents can have confidence.”

In response, a spokesperson for the council said: “We have received a challenge to the contract from Serco, which is being assessed. Challenges to procurement are not uncommon.”

Glasgow indicated its intention of moving towards a deal with CGI late last year, with a strategic business case for the services, which was approved by its executive committee last month, going against the option of returning them in-house. It is understood that it saw the Edinburgh-DGI procurement as being valid for other public authorities in Scotland, including itself.

The arrangement would reportedly be worth up to £400m over seven years.