Department to spend £400k exploring creation of digital tool
Credit: Public domain
The Department for Education is to create a digital procurement service “to help schools save money on standard catalogue purchases”.
The DfE is looking for a commercial partner to conduct research and help it develop and test a prototype tool that could improve the “inefficient” way schools currently buy commodity products and services. The department wants to create a service through which schools can navigate a catalogue of goods to find the most appropriate product at the best available price.
Problems encountered by schools as part of the existing “manual and time-consuming” process include a lack of “easily accessible [and] trustworthy information about value”. Suppliers, meanwhile, face a high cost of entry to the market and other obstacles, the DfE said.
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In recent years, the department has conducted three discovery exercises “looking into the needs and pain points faced by school buyers”. The last of these progressed into an alpha stage, but none has yet moved on into a public beta service.
“This year there has been some further economic analysis done by the DfE Delivery Unit, which showed a large price variance across online goods catalogues,” the department said. “This identified market failure has prompted us to start this piece of work.”
The DfE is looking for a supplier to work with an existing seven-strong team of civil servants over the course of an eight-week discovery exercise, followed by an optional 12-week alpha.
A budget of £400,000 is available for the programme. Bids are open until 19 August.