GDS revamps Digital Services Framework

Tony Singleton, Government Digital Service (GDS) G-Cloud and Digital Commercial Programme Director, has provided an update on the redesign of the Digital Services Framework.

The procurement framework is housed on the Digital Marketplace and acts as a one stop shop for the public sector to buy digital services and expertise.

Recent sales figures indicate that £26.4m has been spent via Digital Services so far, with 64 per cent of sales going to SMEs.

There is a wide gap between central and wider public sector use of the framework, as 89 per cent of buyers were central government.

By engaging with the market, GDS has been able to identify that the evaluation process used in previous iterations of the Digital Services Framework needs to change as suppliers described application to the framework as a “demanding process.”

“We do need to ensure that suppliers on the framework can provide the right capabilities to successfully deliver the service,” claimed Singleton.

“To do this we’re developing a light touch evaluation that suppliers will need to pass as part of the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) process in order to secure a place on the framework.

“Potentially, the main competition could be carried out at the point of procurement, during the Request for Proposal (RFP) or call-off process when suppliers’ responses can be evaluated against known problems or requirements. We do not foresee a return to the reverse auctions,” he added.

Simpler And Clearer

The team leading the Digital Services Framework redesign are also investigating how they can make the contracts involved simpler and clearer.

It has been holding a series of ‘design workshops’ with the aim of transforming contracts by designing them to encourage success, moving away from verbose and difficult to read language, to meet user needs and improving transparency and disclosure.

Buyers and suppliers have also indicated that the communication from government surrounding the framework could be improved.

Work on redesigning Digital Services began in February this year when a multi-disciplinary team made up of staff from GDS, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Government Legal Department came together.

According to Singleton, the team is listening to customer feedback and hosting market engagement events to find out what changes the users actually want to see.

He claims that talking to buyers and suppliers has revealed that there are three distinct areas that buyers look to buy from and suppliers fall into:

  • Suppliers delivering a stated outcome such as carrying out a discovery, building an alpha or providing a solution to a problem
  • Specialists offering expert skills and services
  • Resources needed to deliver an outcome such as user research labs or recruiting people for user research.

The OJEU document for the third iteration of Digital Services is expected to be released in October.

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