How to appoint people for digital projects and the application process to supply services through the Digital Services framework.
The Digital Marketplace is where central government, local authorities, devolved administrations, arm’s length bodies and wider public sector bodies can commission suppliers to work on digital projects via the Digital Services framework (DSf).
Buyers can either contract with suppliers for individual roles to join their existing digital teams, or create entire digital teams to work on a project.
Digital Services framework
This framework is an agreement with suppliers that sets out terms and conditions under which individuals or teams can be contracted for digital projects. Suppliers should be able to work in an agile way.
As well as supplying services individually, suppliers can join one or more other suppliers (eg as a consortium) when applying to be on the framework to collectively offer one, some, or all of the 7 digital capabilities set out in the ‘Digital Services buyers’ guide’
Apply to the Digital Services framework
It’s estimated that the framework will be refreshed every 6 to 9 months. This refresh is when new suppliers can apply to be on the DSf.
Suppliers apply by responding to an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), which is the European mechanism for tendering transparently in the public sector. When the DSf is refreshed, an OJEU will be published on Tenders Electronic Daily.
The refresh will also be an opportunity to make changes to the framework based on user feedback and consultation with both buyers and suppliers. This process is similar to the iterative approach to building the citizen-facing digital services in the transformation programme.
Suppliers are asked to describe and show evidence of their capabilities when applying for a place on the framework. As part of this process, suppliers will need to demonstrate that their methodology meets the government’s Service Design Manual and the Digital by Default (DbD) standard for new or redesigned digital services.
Suppliers’ applications to the framework are evaluated by Government Digital Service (GDS) subject matter experts covering all 7 digital capabilities.
A place on the framework is no guarantee of business to a supplier. For each digital project request for proposal (RFP) suppliers are invited to respond to, they’ll go through technical and commercial evaluation.
Using the Digital Marketplace to buy digital specialist services
The Digital Marketplace lists all of the suppliers, the digital capabilities and roles offered, and the day rate pricing. A buyer can browse and filter suppliers based on location, capability, roles, and technologies they work with, and then create a shortlist of suppliers to contact for more information about how they would approach a specific project.
All public sector organisations can use the Digital Marketplace.
Managed service for buyers
If you’re a central government department, a non-departmental body or an arm’s length body, you’ll come through the GDS spend control process.
Extra support from GDS and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is available for buyers in central government, non-departmental bodies, devolved administrations, and arm’s length bodies to:
- draft the RFP and supplier evaluation criteria
- carry out the RFP process
- evaluate supplier responses to the RFP using a gated evaluation process: the first gate is on technical/cultural fit; the second gate is on commercial/financial - suppliers that pass both evaluation gates will be awarded call-off contracts with associated statements of work (SOWs) to provide the digital project outcomes
Digital Services framework buyers and suppliers must work in an agile way. This means that teams need to constantly iterate against user feedback, testing in small chunks, working quickly to improve services.
Services based on user need
These services should be useful and usable to the user, improved and updated based on user testing and feedback, and achieve a balance of high quality, time and cost.
GDS considers a project successful if it provides a service that’s preferred by users over traditional methods like phone and paper-based applications. This is described in detail in the service manual. After April 2014 all new or redesigned central government digital services will be expected to meet the Digital by Default service standard.
Certain projects need individuals or teams to be security cleared before they’re invited to respond to an RFP. However, security clearance isn’t needed to be a supplier on DSf.
For further help on how to buy and supply services or to provide any feedback and suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.