Defra spends £150m on digital deals for app development

Environment department picks IT services giants for contracts

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has awarded two major contracts for app-development services worth a cumulative £150m.

Recently published procurement information reveals that, on 1 February, the department entered into a two-year engagement with Capgemini, which will help the development of applications to support Defra’s Future Farming, Food Security, Borders and Trade operations .

Just over a month later, on 2 March, the department signed a deal with another IT services giant – Cognizant – which will app-development support for two Defra programmes: Digital Data; and Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment.

Each deal will be worth £74m to the firms in question during their initial 24-month terms – adding up to £148m in total. The contracts also each offer Defra the option to extend the engagement by a further year.

The two contracts form part of the department’s ongoing Application Development and Maintenance Services (ADMS) procurement initiative, intended to support Defra’s wider digital ambitions.

Unveiled last year, the ADMS programme will see the department put out to tender contracts worth a total of up to £750m, and covering the development and ongoing support – for the next eight years – of about 200 applications in use across the Defra group.

According to a prior information notice published last summer to alert potential suppliers to the programme, the department said that some contracts would be intended to enable Defra to access “resource augmentation framework… to support internal software development teams with a flexible resourcing model”.

Other deals would seek to support the department in working with “SME suppliers [that are] able to provide niche tools and skill sets”.

The overall aim of the software procurement programme was the “provision of an holistic supply chain to provide capability and capacity to support the development of applications and application maintenance and support services from October 2022 through to 2030”.

Sam Trendall

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