The Post Office has revealed that it plans to adopt a ‘service towers model’ to provide IT services across the organisation, and has issued two contracts worth up to £360 million to support these.

‘Towers’ are set up so that a company can provide different services – such as desktops, networks, applications – across a whole organisation, which can be provided by different suppliers, but are all typically managed by one company throughout the implementation process.

This is the approach the Post Office is taking. It said: “The model chosen allows the provision of service towers being managed by a service integrator. In this context, Post Office has commenced a procurement to identify a prime supplier to act as such a service integrator and now wishes to seek further prime suppliers to support delivery of technical services through the service towers.”

One of these ‘prime suppliers’ is being sought to provide data centre services, with a contract worth up to £60 million over seven years.

The other prime supplier being sought will provide end user computing services to the Post Office, where the contract is worth up to £300 million over a possible six-year period.

The contract notices said: “The selected bidder will be required to…enable transformation of the Post Office’s IT estate and be ready for transition of the above services from the incumbent suppliers, as well as providing any new services that Post Office may require in the future, and support all these services as per the agreed service levels during and post transition.”

A spokeswoman for the Post Office confirmed to Computerworld UK that these service towers are not at present being used to replace its troubled Horizon system, which was provided by Fujitsu.

She said: “Post Office Limited is not tendering for a new IT system. What we are doing is consolidating our vendor landscape and implementing an industry standard towers model that will support our current and future IT services."

The Horizon point of sale system has been the source of much controversy over allegedly problematic accounting – resulting in an angry legal battle with sub-postmasters who say they have been wrongly accused of fraud – and in criticism by parliamentary committees that have questioned its cost.

It has since been revealed that an independent team of forensic accountants will carry out an investigation into the system.