Twenty London councils have announced a framework contract for back-office services worth up to £1.4 billion, in a bid to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Led by Westminster City Council, the local authorities are looking to outsource four lots of services, namely finance, procurement, HR and payroll, e-Sourcing, property asset data management and business intelligence.

The contract notice states: "The aim is not to provide merely outsourced technology but for the successful service provider(s) to demonstrate that the underpinning technology ensures that the council receive streamlined back-office services, improved process efficiency and cost-effectiveness, capacity for self-service by internal customers, improved efficient and effective reporting, analytics and information, identified and delivered savings and quality of service."

Services provided under the four-year framework contract, which has a minimum value of £960,000, will be available to Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Sutton, Southwark, Richmond-upon-Thames, Newham, Kingston-upon-Thames and Kensington and Chelsea councils.

The councils of Islington, Hounslow, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hackney, Ealing, Camden, Bromley, Hillingdon, Wandsworth and Bexley, and City of London Corporation are also included in the framework.

These make up the majority of London's 33 councils.

The procurement comes under the wider London programme, Project Athena, a pan-London initiative to ensure procurement benefits are available across the city. The project came out of a London councils initiative known as Capital Ambition.

A maximum of four IT suppliers are expected to be appointed, one for each lot. However, the notice adds that multiple lots may be awarded to a single supplier if they are successful in bidding for each.

The largest lot is for finance, procurement, HR and payroll systems, with a value ranging between £48 million and £1.26 billion.

The lot, for business intelligence systems ranges between £1.44 million and £84 million. The remaining two lots are both worth between £960,000 and £42 million each.

All the councils currently deliver the services being sought through this contract in a variety of ways. Some are run and managed in-house, others are externally hosted and managed in-house or hosted and managed externally. Some are a combination.

Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster City Council and Kensington & Chelsea, for example, announced they would looking to share 'every major service' in response to the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.