Government spends £66m extending deal for testing new digital services and IT systems

Dynamic purchasing system – developed by procurement specialists working in conjunction with the Home Office – was introduced in 2019 to offer public sector buyers a means of accessing quality assurance services

The government is set to spend an additional £66m via an extension of a long-term deal through which public bodies can test new IT systems and public digital services prior to launch.

The Quality Assurance and Testing for IT Systems 2 agreement was first put in place in December 2019. It operates as a dynamic purchasing system – meaning new suppliers and services can be added throughout the lifespan of the deal.

The framework, which was originally due to expire in a month’s time, has now been extended until 3 July 2025. These extra 19 months are projected to mean that spending via the DPS will rise from £166m to £232m.

The testing agreement – which replaced and superseded a previous iteration, which ran for three years and expired in 2020 – was jointly developed by the Home Office, which worked closely with procurement experts from the Crown Commercial Service.

Although the deal was created with the needs of the Home Office in mind, it is available for use by all organisations across government and the wider public sector.

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“The framework will… offer independent quality assurance testing (QAT) services for use by the whole of the public sector and their associated bodies and agencies,” according to the CCS website. “QAT is needed for new digital systems and services to make sure they are suitable for public launch.”

Framework guidance documents identify 10 core services offered via the agreement, respectively covering: QAT Specialists; QA and DevOps; load and performance testing; QA and testing; infrastructure testing; operational acceptance testing; strategic QA consultancy; accessibility QA and testing; security QA and testing; QA capability development.

“As the public sector uses and develops more online and digital services, there is an increasing need for continuous testing of these systems throughout the delivery lifecycle,” the guidance adds. “This agreement is an easy and flexible route to market for you to buy specialist, independent testing services. This agreement provides a regulated route to market for public sector buyers to buy specialist, independent assurance and testing services, throughout your IT project lifecycle.”

Sam Trendall

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