UK - The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched the search for a provider to develop an employer compliance regime in relation to the new system of personal accounts.

TPR confirmed in November it would be starting the procurement process this month following a "market sounding event" in December where interested parties could register their interest. (See earlier IPE article: UK regulator starts personal accounts procurement)

It was originally anticipated TPR would tender around 11 separate contracts in various areas, however it has now issued just the one tender for 'competitive dialogue' to cover the range of areas including IT and case management.

TPR said it requires a "prime contractor" to provide the services to support the enrolment, compliance and enforcement regime related to personal accounts when they come into affect in 2012.

It pointed out the Pensions Act 2008 will place new obligations on employers to offer and contribute to an occupational pension, with the requirement to auto-enrol eligible employees, and this applies to "any employer who has employees within the UK, regardless of whether or not that employer has a place of business within the UK".

As a result the responsibilities included in the contract include:

Compliance and con-compliance case management including associated business processes; Enabling services including multi-channel contact management, print and mail, data and document/records management; Underlying technology services such as system design, operation and database administration, and Case management, which will include employer monitoring and investigation, employer enrolment, non-compliance administration, penalty payment processing and debt management, and handling third party data.

TPR admitted it is "anticipated that the services to be provided by the successful bidder will be significantly IT-enabled" but added the regulator might retain "some or all of the IT", such as the database build and management, so it requires a "mandatory variant bid which excludes the IT services" as it will not make a final decision on the IT development until the initial stage of the 'competitive dialogue' process.

As part of the tender process potential bidders are invited to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), after which the respondents will be reduced to a shortlist of around five providers who will then be offered an Invitation to Participate in a Dialogue (ITPD).
The closing date for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 25 February 2009, although TPR revealed it has the "current intention" of hosting a 'bidders conference' on 3 February 2009, which will include further explanation of the minimum level of standards for economic and financial capability required by bidders to participate.

The contract is scheduled to last for an initial period of five years, with the option of incremental extensions of up to a further five years.

The procurement process by TPR follows a similar move by the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA), which has initiated a search for a scheme administrator for the new occupational pension scheme. (See earlier IPE article: PADA targets admin in first tender)

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