Partnering confusion leads to Digital Services framework changes

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is to strengthen guidance on partnering opportunities on the next iteration of the Digital Services Framework after confusion among customers and officials.

According to a mystery shopper report compiled by the Cabinet Office unit, two separate suppliers recently lost out on winning tenders due to confusion on partnering rules.

Changes will be implemented for the forthcoming Digital Services Three, which is still expected to go live later this month.

In the first case, a supplier contacted the mystery shopper team about a call off from the framework.

The CCS report said: “The customer, the Ministry of Justice, had not considered the option of several suppliers partnering to deliver the requirement, and as a result the opportunity was too large for the supplier to bid for.”

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MOJ had not been aware that they had the ability to include a partnering option, the report said.

The mystery shopper report said: “We have agreed that, for Digital Services Three (that will replace the current framework shortly), the customer guidance is strengthened to increase awareness and underline the benefits of partnering as a solution on this framework.”

In the second case, a supplier failed to win a Defence Science and Technology Laboratory call off from the framework. The supplier felt it was unclear in the documentation provided that partnering was a requirement on the contract.

According to the report: “The mystery shopper team made some suggestions to improve the advice to suppliers when partnering is required so that it is clearer going forward. The CCS procurement team accepted and implemented these suggestions.”

In a third case, a supplier complained that a rival had won a contract with MoJ by offering a different price to the agreed G-Cloud rates.

“The MoJ responded quickly to the concerns raised and explained that the winning supplier had not bid lower than their G-Cloud price: rather the supplier had won the bid by providing the service for fewer hours than offered by competitors and this is why the cost was different,” the mystery shopper report said.

Colin Marrs

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