Two Scottish local authorities have extended their managed IT services contracts with Canadian tech giant CGI, in separate deals a week apart.

Edinburgh City Council and Scottish Borders Council have both announced extensions to long-term deals worth a combined £130m with the multinational ICT and digital services provider.

Under a notice published this week on Public Contracts Scotland, Scottish Borders Council will extend its existing contract by five years, which has a value of £30m. 

The council originally agreed a contract with CGI to run from 2016 to 2029, with an in-built option to extend for six years. The latest ‘in principle’ update – representing a £7m-per-annum spend – will take this even further into the future, to 2040. In a description of the procurement process, the council acknowledged the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in its decision to provide security of service provision.

It said: “The Council intends to extend the current established partnership and related contract with CGI by a further 5 years to meet long term future challenges, to take advantage of new transformative opportunities and so to deliver the best possible outcomes for the Scottish Borders.

“The Council recognises the adverse effect of the current pandemic on the economy and the resulting uncertainty for the longer term. This proposal will minimise the effect of this on both employees and the community by providing security in relation to ongoing services and delivering transformation opportunities through long term investment in the Digital Borders programme.”

Last week, Edinburgh City Council announced its decision to sign a £100m six-year extension to its existing contract with CGI, as it sought to deliver on Edinburgh’s vision of becoming one of the world’s ‘smartest’ capital cities.

Part of that plan is to set up a ‘Smart City Operations Centre’, which will deliver ‘transformative digital services using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and advanced analytics to accelerate benefits to Edinburgh’s citizens’.

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day is the City of Edinburgh Council’s Smart Cities lead. He said: “Becoming a smart Capital city will make Edinburgh a more sustainable and fair city so I’m pleased we’ve secured CGI’s long-term support to help us with our vision. We’re already well on our way to transforming the way we deliver many Council services, making them much more efficient and easy to use for residents. We want to develop this further and under the contract, we’re looking at making digital learning services a lot more accessible and inclusive for all our pupils and residents. The work we’ll do with CGI will also support our plans for lowering carbon emissions and lowering costs by using smart technology.

Planned improvements will include bridging the digital divide in Edinburgh, providing schools with digitally advanced networks and equipment, and helping Edinburgh meet its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Smart City systems will address core programs and projects such as finance, tourism, health and social care, intelligent traffic signals, smart streetlights, and even intelligent sanitation systems.

A spokesperson for SBC said: “By agreeing an extension at this time the Council would benefit financially and we would be able to further our Fit for 2024 transformation programme to ensure we are in the best shape to meet future challenges, take advantage of new opportunities and deliver the best possible outcomes for Borders’ communities.

“The contract extension would allow CGI to support SBC to make sure we are ‘fit’ to deal with the many challenges we face in a constantly changing digital world.

“It would also enable the Scottish Borders region to benefit from the advancement of digitally connected communities to support improved outcomes in areas such as health, social care and advancing our already world-leading education IT programmes.

“Our new programmes will also create benefits that will support better working experiences and improved efficiencies for the Council.”

The spokesperson added: “SBC and CGI have a proven track record of working together successfully over the last four years.

“A prime example of this is our world-leading Inspire Learning programme that has provided all Borders school pupils in P5–S6 with iPads and internet connectivity to enhance their learning both in the classroom and at home.

“CGI has been integral to the Council’s operations during the COVID-19 outbreak by ensuring thousands of staff who are having to work from home are doing so as effectively as possible.

“They have also played a crucial role in the recovery from other emergency incidents; most notably the major fire at Peebles High School last year.

“The detailed business case for the extension of the CGI contract will be presented to elected members at the full Council meeting on Friday 25 September to enable a final decision to be made.”