The current contract is run by EDS and is up for renewal in 2004. The Revenue estimates it will be worth between £300m and £400m a year for a minimum of ten years and a maximum of 18 years.
But the cost of bidding for a contract that industry experts believe is likely to stay with EDS is said to be putting potential bidders off, and the Revenue admits it may have to cover those costs to make the competition fair.
A spokeswoman for the Revenue said these had been estimated at between £5m and £10m.
‘That decision will be made after the initial stage of the competition and will be based on value for money criteria,’ she said.
Initial responses and expressions of interest must be made this week and the spokeswoman said more than 100 had been received so far. Bids must be made by 10 May and a shortlist will be announced between August and October, with the winner selected in December next year.
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