The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the final three consortia being considered to run the biggest single technology contract in the UK public sector.
Atlas, Lockheed Martin and RaDII are now left to fight for the £5bn deal. Previously, the MoD was considering four bids.
The announcement will be a blow to IBM, which has again lost out in a battle for major public sector IT contracts. In recent weeks, Big Blue missed out on lucrative deals to run IT improvement programmes in the NHS.
The final winner will be responsible for overseeing all of the MoD's IT infrastructure, including the management of existing contracts, such as the personnel system operated by the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency.
The remaining consortia and the companies comprising them are:
- Atlas: EDS, Fujitsu, Cogent, General Dynamics, LogicaCMG
- Lockheed Martin: Lockheed Martin, Deloitte Consulting, HP, Qinetic, SAIC, Unisys
- RaDII: CSC, BT, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Thales e-Security
The three consortia all expressed their delight at having got through to the final stages.
"Atlas is confident it has the ability to deliver a technical solution that provides a 'seamless interface' to theatre, battlegroup and tactical communications nets," said Graham Lay, head of defence at EDS UK.
Gary Mellor, chief executive officer of the RaDII consortium, commented: "We have worked hard to develop a flexible partnering framework which is focused on delivering tangible benefits to the MoD."
The ultimate winner will be responsible for providing a service to 300,000 users across 2,000 worldwide locations. It will cover permanent military sites, airfields, battlefields, submarines and field operations.
The programme has three stages: to take on existing systems, to manage an intermediate 'convergent' stage, and to deliver the full, integrated defence information infrastructure by 2008.
The contract is due to be signed towards the end of next year and start in early 2005.
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