Guidance

Digital Outcomes and Specialists audit trail guidance

How to keep an audit trail when you buy Digital Outcomes and Specialists services.

You must keep your audit trail when you buy Digital Outcomes and Specialists services from the Digital Marketplace.

What an audit trail is

An audit trail is a record of all the activities and decisions you make at every stage of the buying process ordered by date.

Purpose of an audit trail

You must keep an audit trail to show that you’ve bought services in a fair and transparent way. It gives you evidence of how you made your decision in case there’s an internal audit or a supplier asks. It will provide evidence that you’ve complied with the Public Contract Regulations 2015.

Audit trail principles

Your audit trail must:

  • be kept for at least 3 years
  • be stored in an accessible format, in a place that other people in your team have access to, for example a shared folder
  • keep a record of the buying process from your first contact with suppliers, for example from early market engagement until the contract (or ‘call-off’) ends

What is logged by the Digital Marketplace

When you buy digital outcomes, digital specialist and user research participant services the Digital Marketplace will automatically keep a copy of:

  • questions asked by suppliers about your requirements, also known as clarification questions
  • your answers to supplier questions
  • the requirements you’ve created for every piece of work (drafts, published and closed)
  • the responses suppliers provided when they applied for the work, eg answers to essential and nice-to-have questions, start date, supplier contact email and day rate (for specialists only)

What you must keep

You must keep a record of your communications with suppliers that aren’t already saved by the Digital Marketplace. You must save details of:

  • all contact with suppliers during early market engagement:
    • how you approached suppliers, eg in person at an event
    • who was involved, ie the suppliers you approached and who approached them
    • any correspondence or meeting notes
    • what you learned and how you changed your requirements
  • all decisions made, with supporting evidence, eg scores you award when you assess suppliers
  • who you exclude when you shortlist, and why
  • questions you ask shortlisted suppliers to answer during interviews and presentations
  • feedback you give to successful and unsuccessful suppliers after the evaluation stage
  • how written responses are received from suppliers
  • who has access to written responses and when
  • all types of communication with suppliers, eg:
    • emails and other forms of written communication
    • webinars
    • face-to-face conversations
    • all written proposals and supporting evidence
    • notes you take during phone conversations and meetings

If you buy from the user research labs category, you must record the filters you use to shortlist suppliers, eg take screenshots throughout the buying process.

Published 18 April 2016