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Government extends PSN framework for 12 months

Crown Commercial Service is struggling to cope with multiple questions over PSN replacement, the Network Services Framework

The Government has extended the Public Services Network (PSN) framework for another year as it struggles to answer hundreds of questions from suppliers about PSN's replacement.

The Network Services Framework (NSF) the replacement for PSN - is still expected to go live in April, but the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has acted upon its option to extend the existing PSN contracts for another year.

The CCS is facing hundreds of "clarification questions" from companies considering tendering for the NSF framework.

The PSN is a shared network for public bodies looking to save money by sharing IT services.

NSF is designed to improve on PSN by helping councils buy the services they want in the manner they wish to, as well as including emerging technologies not offered under PSN.

However, the CCS has just three months to answer queries on the new framework, which are understood to relate to technical aspects of NSF.

Phil Gibson,  chairman of the PSN suppliers body, PSNGB, said his organisation is still supportive of the incoming NSF framework, but called the decision to extend PSN a "sensible" one.

"We believe that it will benefit both customers and suppliers," he said. "The move to extend, subject to certain conditions, the PSN Frameworks is a sensible, pragmatic one that brings an assurance of continuity to the marketplace, but the first priority must remain the successful and timely completion of Network Services."

He added: "CCS has tried to introduce a more flexible and innovative approach to procurement and it should be commended for this. The path of change and progress is often a rocky one; the extension of the PSN Frameworks provides some insurance during this change period, but this should not be a reason to stall."

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