GDS seeks to retain supplier to support £4m of ‘urgent projects’

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 February 2020 in News

Digital agency floats two-year deal for an external specialist to provide on-demand assistance

Credit: Judith E. Bell/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Government Digital Service is seeking a supplier that can provide it with short-notice support for its response to “urgent requests received… from departments”.

GDS has published a contract notice on the Digital Marketplace looking for a provider that can, within a timeframe of no more than 10 days, provide staff to help the digital agency deliver “time-constrained DDaT projects”.

The chosen firm will be appointed to a two-year deal with a budget of up to £4m – but no minimum spend.

The proposed contract comes after GDS awarded three similar deals last year related to its delivert of “urgent EU exit requirements”. 

Cognizant, PA Consulting, and Deloitte were each appointed to a one-year contract worth up to £1m.

The digital unit claimed that the new contract will be “following on from the success” of those engagements.

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“The new contract will continue to provide teams, or resources to supplement existing teams for departments and arm’s-length bodies,” it said. “There will be a need for a flexible supplier to respond to urgent requests received by GDS from departments [and] enable departments to access the market for support in delivering urgent digital projects, where resources are required within five to 10 working days.”

The chosen supplier will be tasked with providing support in three main areas: “resource to supplement teams on urgent projects; agile multidisciplinary teams; [and] specialist services, [such as] data science, GOV.UK content, and domain knowledge”. 

Projects are likely to require designers, analysts, delivery professionals, developers, and user researchers.

In some cases, departments may require an entire team. In others, they may need a certain number of staff to flesh out an existing team.

“The supplier will work with government departments and ALBs [in] a range of disciplines, including architecture, security, policy, service and product management, finance, and delivery management,” GDS said. “Knowledge transfer back into HMG will be required to enable HMG to improve internal capability to build and support the services.”

It added: “Where required in the development cycle, collaboration with other suppliers may be necessary. This contract will not prevent us from using other commercial arrangements, including using capability contracts, to pull together a team from a range of suppliers.”

Bids for the contract opened yesterday and close on 17 February. The winning bidder will be signed up to a two-year deal, scheduled to start on 20 April.

The contract appears to provide further demonstration of government’s growing reliance on so-called ‘bench’ agreements, in which a supplier is retained to provide staff and other resources at short notice, and for as-yet-unspecified purposes. 

Bench deals, which have grown increasingly common over the last year, have been criticised as being prohibitive for smaller firms – who are unlikely to be able to keep large numbers of staff free and available for rapid deployment. 


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor PublicTechnology

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