The Government Digital Service has said it wants to find out what technology councils need to buy, in a bid to make its Digital Marketplace procurement platform more attractive to local government.
The Digital Marketplace is a central platform where public sector organisations can buy digital and technology services with more than 3,300 supplier listed on it, but its take up in local government has been consistently low.
The most recent sales figures for the two Digital Marketplace platforms – for cloud services or digital services – show that around 23% of G-Cloud sales are to local government and the wider public sector, while the figure is 14% for the Digital Services Framework.
However, in a blogpost, Gemma Phelan, who works on local government engagement at GDS, said that this figure is “not very meaningful without context”.
For instance, she said, the data quality of who is buying what from where needs to be improved – which she said GDS was doing by linking up registers of various public sector buyers with databases of suppliers – and then mapped against users of the Digital Marketplace.
This extra information on where and how organisations are buying services will help GDS to offer better, and more targeted, support to local government, Phelan said.
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Phelan added that the recently-published Local Government Digital Service Standard called for councils to take a more common approach to delivering digital services, saying: “Currently, there’s no real uniformity in the way digital services are delivered at a local level,” she said. “Councils and other government organisations routinely buy the same products and services independently, to achieve the same outcomes.”
She went on to say that the Digital Marketplace offered an “open and transparent” way to buy products that encouraged collaboration and learning from others’, adding that GDS wanted to make it the “preferred buying route for all public sector organisations”.
GDS wants to wants to create a plan to support local and other public sector bodies across the UK – which it will do by first asking those organisations what technology and digital services they need, and what barriers they face when using the Digital Marketplace.
“We want to understand the unique challenges they face when using the Digital Marketplace so we can work together to overcome these,” said Phelan.
“We’ll be feeding these back into the design and development of the Digital Marketplace where we can.”
Phelan also said that the Digital Marketplace would be updated to cut down the time spent on commissioning services by providing a full, end-to-end user journey that allowed buyers to evaluate a shortlist, notify successful suppliers and generate and sign a contract digitally.