GDS signals complete rethink on Digital Services framework

The government’s Digital Services framework will be completely redesigned after complaints from users, the Government Digital Service has confirmed.

Tony Singleton, director of the digital commercial programme at GDS, said yesterday that user feedback meant that it would be changing its approach to the third iteration of the framework, due to launch later this year.

One major change includes the ability for purchasers to engage a team or agency to deliver work, rather than just individuals.

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Singleton said: “It has become clear from user research that Digital Services needs to be completely redesigned to the extent that it will essentially be a new framework. 

“We’re even considering giving it a new name that more accurately reflects its purpose.”

He added: “We’ve had feedback from suppliers who want to be able to supply teams of people, focussed on addressing specific needs and outcomes, rather than body shopping. As a result, we’re designing the new framework to meet this need.”

Harry Metcalfe is managing director at digital services provider dxw, who had criticised the previous iteration of the framework, welcomed the changes.

He said in a blog post: “This is all great news. Re-orientating the framework around teams, specialists and supporting resources is a much more sensible approach – a closer fit both to the needs of buyers and the capabilities of suppliers.”

“Hopefully this will be based on G-Cloud-esque service definitions and published costs, but that’s yet to be announced.”

Metcalfe, however, said that the CCS was now up against the clock to release the framework by the planned date of November.

He said: “I can’t imagine this will have launched by November, so we’re still left in a bit of a pickle if DS2 doesn’t work out.”

Singleton said that GDS had considered whether the redesigned framework should be a new lot on G-Cloud but had decided against it because G-Cloud is for commodity cloud services based on supplier terms and conditions.

“Digital Services takes an entirely new approach, addressing different user needs, different procurement processes and regulations, and very different user journeys,” he said.

He expected to appoint firms to the second iteration of the framework shortly, saying evaluation of the bids has taken longer than anticipated.

Colin Marrs

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