Framework U-turn after Singleton admits flaws

The government has reversed a decision to remove agile development services from the Digital Marketplace after criticisms of their new home on the Digital Services framework (DS).

The decision comes shortly after suppliers were sent letters stating that agile services would no longer available through the G-Cloud framework, hosted on the marketplace.

Officials had faced criticism over the decision, which would have left DS – dubbed as flawed by many suppliers – as the only route for government organisations to procure agile services.

Today, Tony Singleton, director of the digital commercial programme at the Government Digital Service (GDS), said in a blog post: “We know that letters have already been sent to suppliers stating that agile services will be removed from the Digital Marketplace.

“After jointly reviewing this decision and listening to the resounding feedback, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and GDS have decided not remove agile development services available under G-Cloud 5 from the Digital Marketplace, while we focus on improving the Digital Services framework.”

Last week, Harry Metcalfe, managing director at digital services supplier dxw, a digital services provider  said the decision to remove agile from G-Cloud was problematic because DS was a flawed, failed framework.

He said: “It is an attempt to restore the bad old days of commodity body-shopping, but fails to accomplish even that in a workable way. It completely overlooks the reality that a good company is more than the sum total of its staff’s LinkedIn profiles.”

In addition to today’s U-turn, Singleton also pledged to ensure that guidance around the use of DS would address buyers needs.

There will also be a joint GDS and CCS team ready to assist commercial teams, to provide assurance that the way the framework is being used is legally compliant.

Singleton also confirmed that having co-located teams has always been at the buyer’s discretion, and will not always be a requirement. “We’ll be making sure that buyers are aware that they can take this approach.

“And we’ll do our best to ensure that tenders issued through the framework are very clear about the approach the buyer is taking,” he added.

The second iteration of the DS framework has still to be launched, following a number of delays.

In January, he government changed the reverse auction process on the framework, after complaints that it would lead to a drop in quality and put off SMEs

Singleton said there was “a great deal that needs to be done to put the Digital Services framework right” for its third iteration.

He said GDS, CCS and Treasury Solicitors would consult widely with the private sector and digital leaders across government on how to improve it.

Read Harry Metcalfe’s blog on the questions this episode raises about the relationship between GDS and CCS

Colin Marrs

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