How to award a contract when you buy services

How to award a contract when you buy services through the Digital Marketplace.

You can only enter into a call-off contract with a supplier who’s been accepted onto either the G-Cloud or Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework (an agreement between government and suppliers) on the Digital Marketplace.

Before you enter into a contract

The financial position of suppliers isn’t checked when they apply to the frameworks. You can do financial checks, such as an Experian credit check, before you award the contract. Discuss the results with the supplier if you have concerns.

What’s an order form and when to use it

The order form is part of the call-off contract. This is the part that you fill and agree details with the supplier. It includes:

  • whether the supplier will provide a cloud or digital specialist service (depending on the framework)
  • the terms under which the supplier will provide a service

This can help you highlight things like invoicing arrangements or additional terms and conditions to potential suppliers.

Filling in an order form

You have to generate a purchase order (PO) number from your internal payment or ordering system. Once you have this, you and the supplier should complete the order form.

Order forms vary between frameworks. They can ask for details of:

  • the buyer and the supplier contact details
  • the agreed service start and expiry date (maximum 24 months)
  • the service description
  • the quantity of the service required
  • the total contract value (including a breakdown of smaller costs) and how to pay
  • service deliverables, for example what needs to be done, and by when
  • things that must be completed before the service can go live
  • the supplier’s liability and insurance
  • the terms and conditions under which the supplier will provide their service
  • notice period for ending a contract
  • commercially sensitive information
  • third parties
  • staff vetting procedures
  • where the services will be delivered

Both you and the supplier need to sign the contract before the supplier can start work.

You must then publish details of the completed contract on Contracts Finder.

You’ll need to sign in to your account first. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to register as a buyer on Contracts Finder.

How to use an exit plan

You can agree an ‘exit plan’ with the supplier when you award a contract. You do this using a statement of work. This could help if you need to end your contract early.

You may need to include:

  • any assets you’ll need back
  • any buyer staff training you need as part of the handover of work
  • anything a new supplier will need from your existing supplier

The supplier can update the exit plan during the contract if needed.

Optional deed of guarantee

The deed of guarantee is optional. You can use a guarantee if you:

  • have concerns about the financial standing of a supplier
  • want reassurance that another organisation can fulfil the supplier’s obligations if the original supplier can’t

The G-Cloud framework contract

What’s included

The G-Cloud 12 contract includes the order form, terms and conditions and 7 parts called ‘schedules’ which are:

  • a section about your services
  • a section about the call-off contract charges
  • a collaboration agreement
  • alternative clauses you can use
  • a guarantee
  • a glossary and interpretations
  • GDPR information

If you bought services through G-Cloud 9 or any other G-Cloud iteration, you’ll need to use an earlier G-Cloud call-off contract.

When to start work after signing a contract

Suppliers should ideally start the agreed work within 3 months of signing the contract. This is because:

  • other suppliers might lower their prices or new services may become available
  • your requirements might change
  • services might be removed from the Digital Marketplace

Extending your contract

The maximum length of a G-Cloud contract is 24 months, with the option for 2 additional extensions of 12 months each.

You can extend a contract by up to one year and then a further year but the digital and IT spend controls team have to approve it first if you are in central government.

Changing requirements

If you need to increase the requirement your are buying, you can modify your G Cloud call-off contract as long as it:

  • doesn’t increase the value of the contract by more than 10%
  • doesn’t alter the nature of the contract

If your requirements change, you should cancel the contract and start the buying process again. This means you’ll find the service that meets your requirements, at the best price.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework contract

What’s included

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 legal documents include schedules that describe your requirements and the supplier’s response to your requirements. They also provide the terms and conditions for your call-off contract.

Framework Schedule 6 (Order Form Template, Statement of Work Template and Call-Off Schedules) when completed and signed by both parties forms your call-off contract.

If you bought services through Digital Outcomes and Specialists 4, you’ll need to use the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 4 contract.

If you’re using a fixed price contract, you’ll need to know how much any extra work will cost. You should ask for day rates for each role in case the supplier has to do any unplanned work outside the contract. These rates should be included in the contract.

Read all the Digital Outcomes and Specialists legal documents.

When to start work after signing a contract

For Digital Outcomes and Specialists, the contract expires a month after the buyer and supplier sign the contract if:

  • the supplier hasn’t started the work
  • a statement of work hasn’t been signed

Changing requirements

If your requirements change, you must cancel the contract and start the buying process again. This is so you can find a service that meets your requirements at the best price.

There are some contract changes you can make. You can increase the:

  • original length of the contract by up to 25%
  • value of a statement of work by up to 20%

Paying for services

Payment for services is determined by ‘statements of work’, which outline:

  • what you’ll get
  • the main people involved
  • a breakdown of costs
  • delivery dates for completion of the work


Published 18 April 2016
Last updated 20 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 is live. Updated to add contracts for buying services from 20 January 2021.

  2. Updated to reflect G-Cloud 12 call-off contract. You should use the G-Cloud 12 contract when you buy services from Monday 28 September 2020.

  3. A G-Cloud contract is normally 24 months. Added that this can be extended twice, each time for 12 months only. Have added the call-off contract for the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 4 framework, which went live on 1 October.

  4. Changed references of 'G-Cloud 10' to 'G-Cloud 11', which is the current version of the G-Cloud framework.

  5. Updated to reflect new schedule in Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3 call-off contract, which contains substitute clauses for alternative jurisdictions.

  6. You should use the G-Cloud 10 contract when you buy services from Monday 2 July.

  7. Updated to include G-Cloud 9

  8. Added information about an exit plan

  9. Updated to clarify what to do if your requirements change.

  10. First published.