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17 March 2014 | Will Green
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and a supplier have parted company over a contract to provide electronic tags for offender monitoring.
Buddi was selected as preferred bidder in August 2013 to supply tags but the MoJ said issues around “evidentiary requirements” and battery life could not be overcome.
However, Buddi said the issue behind the split was around “the way government conducts its procurement process”.
In a statement the MoJ said: “It became clear that Buddi could not assure us that they could deliver against the full evidentiary requirements while also fulfilling the other critical requirements of the competition such as battery life. We subsequently worked with Buddi to see if their products could be developed to address the issues, but despite several months of discussions they were not able to do so.
“It was discovered that significant development work was still required that could have put the timely delivery of the new service at risk. Testing of existing products also gave rise to some serious concerns. In this context, we were not able to provide Buddi with the firm contractual commitments that they sought that we would purchase a large number of tags before they had developed the new product, and before we knew if that new product would work.”
The MoJ said a meeting took place on 3 March where “we informed Buddi that we would be ending this element of the competition and launching a rapid new contracting process to secure an alternative supplier of tags”.
Sara Murray, chief executive officer at Buddi, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the company was unhappy about “handing over large amounts of intellectual property” to other bidders and they had spent £2 million on the project.
“We parted ways with the Ministry of Justice because when the bid cost gets to the point it doesn’t make commercial sense given the value of the contract, you can’t carry on,” she said.
A spokesperson for Buddi said: "There will always be differences of opinion on specific procedural points, but the issue is a wider one, namely the way government conducts its procurement process. However, our focus now is to build on the excellent foundation we have established in other markets. Our technology is already being used in 36 out of 42 police forces in England and Wales, and in the private and public sector across more than a dozen countries worldwide."
New contracts are being let for the provision of electronic offender monitoring services after the previous providers, G4S and Serco, were found to be overbilling by tens of millions of pounds.