GDS floats another £4m bench agreement for on-demand digital project support

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 September 2022 in News

External supplier will enter into two-year deal to respond to departments' urgent requirements 

Credit: Alexander Fox/Pixabay

The Government Digital Service is seeking a supplier for the latest in a series of contracts providing the agency with on-demand access to personnel to support the delivery of urgent projects across Whitehall.

GDS has published a contract notice inviting bids for a two-year £4m deal related to “digital capability for urgent DDaT requirements”.  

The notice added: “There is a need for a flexible supplier to respond to urgent requests received by GDS from departments. [This contract will] enable departments to access the market for support in delivering urgent digital projects where resources are required within 5-10 working days.”

The engagement is the 12th such contract advertised by GDS in the past three years, worth a potential cumulative £32m to the suppliers in question.

The digital agency’s use of these on-demand support contracts – commonly referred to as bench agreements – began with three £1m contracts awarded in 2019 to help deliver its work on EU Exit-related projects. These deals were won by Deloitte, PA Consulting, and Cognizant.

Since April 2020, a further eight such commercial arrangements have been put in place, including £1m contracts with BJSS and Engine Partners, a £3m deal with Opencast, and £4m engagements Nomensa, Made Tech and Thoughtworks. In addition to these digital consultancies, tech-specialised recruitment firm LA International has also won two £4m contracts to provide on-demand personnel to support urgent projects. 

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In each case, the value of the deal represents an indicative budget, with no minimum spend guaranteed. 

The brief for the latest contract is identical to most of those that preceded it; the winning bidder will be expected to “provide agile multidisciplinary teams to work with departments to provide a delivery bridge where there is a lack of capability and/or capacity and no time go to market and procure a supplier”.

The notice added: “Core capabilities for the proposed contract would be: user experience and design; performance analysis and data; service delivery; software development; [and] user research. This contract will allow time-critical work to commence while alternative arrangements are made.”

Support provided over the course of the contract will be specified via individual statements of work – up to eight of which may run concurrently at any given point. Each statement will set out “clearly defined digital outcomes”, for which the supplier will be expected to provide a team that can fulfil these requirements within two weeks.

Bidding is open until midnight tomorrow.

Bench arrangements for digital expertise have become increasingly common in recent years, with the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy joining GDS in signing such deals.

While they may be popular with government organisations, they are typically less so with smaller suppliers, who – unlike larger firms – may not be able to keep significant reserves of staff free and available for potential urgent deployment. 


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on


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