The federal government has awarded a contract worth up to $398 million to consolidate 63 e-mail systems into just one to Bell Canada, in partnership with CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc.
Shared Services Canada, the federal agency tasked with modernizing the government’s sprawling IT infrastructure, said the contract will run for seven years, with the option to extend it for an eighth.
A statement said the project will save $50 million annually starting in 2015, when the system is implemented, and will be easier to protect against cyber security threats because there is only one system to protect instead of many.
The federal government currently spends $128 million per year on e-mail.
Bell beat out competing bids from Dell Canada, HP Canada and IBM Canada.
The government said it operated more than 100 separate e-mail systems, 3,000 network services and 300 data centres when Shared Services Canada was created in 2011. It pledged to reduce the infrastructure to one e-mail system and fewer than 20 data centres, and to streamline electronic networks.
In 2012, several local groups representing small and medium enterprises expressed concern that reducing these systems could shut smaller vendors out, companies that had spent decades building their businesses around providing federal IT services.
In response, Public Works said any vendor was invited to apply for Shared Services contract opportunities regardless of its size, as long as the company provided “the best value for money.”