The new DefCARS website has launched on-schedule, and replaces the previous system (DefCARS 1), which has been in use since April 2015. DefCARS is the central system for the capture, storage and analysis of all data submitted in accordance with the Defence Reform Act 2014 for qualifying defence contracts (QDCs), qualifying sub-contracts (QSCs) and qualifying business units.
Work towards DefCARS 2 has been one of the SSRO’s top priorities since August 2016 when, following a competitive tender process, it signed a contract with Synectics Solutions Ltd to develop, implement and maintain the new system.
The design of the new system responds to the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) and defence contractors’ experiences of using DefCARS 1. Stakeholders were also consulted on proposals for the system’s design at SSRO hosted workshops in September 2016, January 2017 and February 2017. Multiple suggestions made by stakeholders at those meetings have been incorporated into the system’s design, and some will be addressed through future system upgrades. The MOD and contractors also participated in testing the system in February.
Key improvements to DefCARS 1 include moving from excel based-templates to online web-forms, increasing auto-population and reducing duplicated fields in reports. A single comprehensive user guide is available and will also be built into report web-forms via interactive guidance information prompts.
The security of data within the new system has been the SSRO’s main priority. DefCARS 2 is hosted on a platform annually accredited for OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE data by the Cabinet Office and the system has also received security accreditation from the MOD. The SSRO was advised by Hex Security, a National Cyber Security Centre certified supplier, during development.
All data submitted into DefCARS 1 has been securely migrated to DefCARS 2, and is available for contractors to view. Data migration was subject to robust data quality checks by the SSRO and Synectics.
The system has been designed to facilitate any future regulatory changes to the Single Source Procurement Regime, and will allow the introduction of better trend analysis and reports to inform contract negotiations involving the MOD and contractors. The SSRO will also regularly review the functionality of the system, and where necessary, implement upgrades and improvements through post-launch system updates.
The SSRO’s helpdesk service (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 020 3771 4785) is available to support stakeholders’ transition to the new system. Training will also be arranged for users in April and May. The new comprehensive user guide that provides guidance on report completion in DefCARS is now available on the SSRO’s website. A version of the guidance that also includes a section on the functionality of the system has been distributed to contractors with existing QDCs and QSCs ahead of the launch.