A TECHNOLOGY megadeal which will cost £73.5 million and see council staff provided with new smartphones and computer tablets is good value for money, a town hall finance chief has said. But Sara Bashford, cabinet member for corporate services, said the council chose not to announce the deal because it did not think the public would be interested. Capita will be paid around £8.5 million a year to completely overhaul the council's tech kit. Staff will see their existing BlackBerry phones replaced with Android or Windows-based smartphones and computers will be upgraded. Tablets will be bought for council officers who work in the community. The deal will save £40 million and result in quicker and greener services, the council said. It replaces an £83 million contract with Capgemini. Cllr Bashford said: "Technology changes all the time and one of the things we have to do is ensure whoever is providing the IT can keep up to date and maintain our staff's ability to work in the field, in the office, while providing the best value for money. This contract will do that." Capita was selected on a criteria of 60 per cent quality and 40 per cent price, but Cllr Bashford admitted the cost appears high. "It's a huge amount of money," she said. "When I looked at it I thought 'My goodness'. It's probably our biggest single contract, but it is the most important one because if that collapses how does the council function?" She added: "Could it have been any cheaper? No." Despite being its most expensive contract, the council did not announce the deal through its press office, even though its PR department is quick to publicise far more mundane and less costly expenses. Cllr Bashford said: "This is very much an internal contract. It's not really of very much interest to the general public, apart from the value. "The residents of Croydon know we have to have IT. If someone really wanted to know [how much it cost] they could ask and we would tell them. "I just don't think that this is particularly interesting to most people."
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