CCS unveils £4bn digital transformation framework

New procurement vehicle for limited number of suppliers will sit alongside long-standing Digital Outcomes and Specialists

Credit: from PxHere

Government procurement chiefs have unveiled a £4bn framework through which public-sector organisations can find suppliers to deliver “end-to-end digital transformation programmes”.

A newly published prior information notice for the newly created Digital Specialists and Programmes framework reveals that the agreement will be split into two lots.

The first lot, dedicated to digital programmes, will support public bodies that wish to procure support for large transformation initiatives that constitute “a rethinking of how an organisation uses technology, people and processes to create new business models and new revenue streams – such as building mobile applications or ecommerce platforms”.

The second lot, for providers of digital specialists, will be focused on “larger capability programmes”, which require significant numbers of “supplier staff to achieve strategic objectives through…projects that involve: research; test; design; build; release; iteration; support; and/or retirement of digital services, outcomes and deliverables”, according to Crown Commercial Service.

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This lot is also intended to offer “a route to market for strategic objectives or scope of services with no clearly defined outcomes or deliverables that will enable digital transformation”.

This differentiates the incoming procurement vehicle from the long-standing Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework. That agreement, which is now on its fifth iteration, allows public sector entities to bring in small numbers of additional tech and data professionals, or obtain support in digital projects with a clear and defined problem to be solved.

But, in recent years, government departments have increasingly used the DOS agreement to tender for so-called bench arrangements, in which a supplier is retained on a long-term contract to provide teams of people at short notice. These deals, which have been criticised as being unfriendly to smaller firms, do not set out clear timelines, programmes, or spending – but rather provide for organisations to boost their resources at short notice for urgent or unforeseen projects and objectives.

The Digital Specialists and Programmes vehicle appears to offer a more suitable route for the supply of bench arrangements.

For its sixth iteration, meanwhile, Digital Outcomes and Specialists will become simply Digital Outcomes. Tender documents for that framework have not yet been issued, but CCS intends that it will work alongside Digital Specialists and Programmes to jointly replace the incumbent DOS agreement.

The newly created framework is expected to feature no more than about 50 suppliers – a marked contrast with Digital Outcomes and Specialists, which has grown with each iteration and now includes 3,340 companies.

CCS has published a six-year spending outlook for Digital Specialists and Programmes, with £800m forecast to spent via the framework during the 2022/23. In the five subsequent years, projected spending is £1.1bn, £800m, £600m, £400m, and £300m – adding up to a cumulative total of £4bn.

Bidding for a place on the framework is due to open on 21 October, with the deal scheduled to come into effect in February 2022 and last for four years.


Sam Trendall

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