Applications open for replacement of one of the government’s key digital services procurement vehicle
Applications are open for suppliers to bid for a place on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3 framework, which comes with a £1.2bn estimated value – almost four times that of its predecessor.
A contract notice was published by the Crown Commercial Service last week seeking bidders for the contract, which is split into four lots: digital outcomes; digital specialists; research studios; and research participants.
The first of these, which is likely to represent the majority of the deal’s potential £1.2bn value, will contain companies that can “can help research, test, design, build, release, iterate, support, or retire a digital service” being developed or already in use by a public-sector body.
The digital specialists lot covers suppliers that can provide teams or individuals who can be brought in to provide additional resources to in-house government digital teams in delivering “a service, programme or project”. Work carried out by these external specialists will have “a defined scope and deliverables”.
The research studios lot will cover the provision of studio space that can be hired out by government entities to conduct user research to help shape services in development.
- Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 goes live with more than 2,000 suppliers
- CCS starts building first Crown Marketplace portals
- ‘This does not feel like a good thing’ – G-Cloud suppliers see opportunity and alarm in framework’s extension
Suppliers on the research participants lot will offer the government “access to user research participants who best reflect the users of a service”.
The framework will be awarded for an initial term of 12 months, with an option for CCS to extend the deal for a further year. Individual call-off contracts of up to two years – plus a six-month extension – can be awarded via the framework.
The framework is available for use across the public sector, including central government departments and arm’s-length bodies, as well as local councils and the NHS.
Bidding for places on the framework will take place through the government’s Digital Marketplace, where suppliers wishing to take part must register for an account, if they have not already done so. Bids are open until 22 August, with the contract scheduled to commence on 1 October.
Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2, which came into effect in January 2017, features a total of 2,018 individual suppliers, including 1,586 on the digital outcomes lot and 1,774 on the digital specialists lot. There are 85 firms in the research studios section, and 181 providers of user research participants. The deal came with an estimated potential worth of £345m.
The framework was due to expire in January but, in late 2017, was one of several of frameworks in CCS’s Digital Futures portfolio of contracts to be extended by 12 months.
But two months after this extension took effect, the government announced that it would be expediting the procurement process for the third iteration of the Digital Outcomes and Specialists deal – which would be retendered this year, after all.
The launch of G-Cloud 10 was also brought forward, and a deal went live earlier this month.
The extensions, which also covered G-Cloud 9 and Cyber Security Services 2, were enacted as CCS and the Government Digital Service wanted to devote more time and resources to developing the Crown Marketplace platform – an “Amazonesque” online store offering the public sector a comprehensive range of goods and services.
But, in the last few months, the development of the Crown Marketplace has taken a somewhat different route than expected, with CCS now creating the platform as, effectively, a range of individual sector-specific marketplaces – rather than building one overarching platform. Although CCS said that it remains “sure that the original vision set out for Crown Marketplace is the right one”.
The most recently available government figures show that, since the first Digital Outcomes and Specialists deal went live in March 2016, a total of £333.5m has been spent through the two iterations of the framework.
About 81% of contracts awarded through the frameworks have been won by SMEs, although these represented only 35% of the overall financial value.
Central government accounts for 89% of sales to date via Digital Outcomes and Specialists, with the wider public sector representing the remaining 11%.