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  1. Service manual
  2. Agile delivery
  3. Spend controls: apply for approval to spend money on a service

Before you start building your service, you may need to apply to the Government Digital Service (GDS) for approval to spend money on it.

This process is known as ‘spend controls’.

Check if you need to apply to spend money on your service.

Why some services must get spend approval

GDS requires services to get spending approval to make sure they’re built in line with the Technology Code of Practice.

You should read the code before starting work on your service and use it when making decisions about technology.

The spend controls process exists to make sure:

  • you’ve considered the needs of the people who’ll use the service
  • you get the best value
  • you only spend on programmes and projects that meet government digital and technology strategies
  • members of the public or private businesses can see how government makes decisions about spending money on digital projects or technology
  • you discover and solve any problems with your service before you spend money
  • you develop services using agile methods

Before you apply

Before you apply you must get your project signed off by either:

You must also contact GDS on gdsapprovals@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk to discuss your idea

Major projects

If your project costs more than your organisation’s expenditure limit, you need to get assurance from the Major Projects Authority.

When to apply

If your service requires spend approval, you need to apply to GDS both:

  • before your service goes into discovery phase
  • before your service goes into live phase

How to apply

Complete a spend control form

To apply for approval, you must:

  1. Download a spend control form at Annex 5.1.
  2. Complete the spend control form.
  3. Send the completed form to gdsapprovals@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.

Share your business case

If you haven’t shared your business case with GDS at the time you’re sending your spend control form, you must send either one of the following with the form:

  • a programme business case, if you have one for your service and you’re using agile methods)
  • a traditional business case, if you’re using public sector OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) procurement processes

Your spend control form will explain the detail your business case needs to include.

Find out more about making programme business cases for agile projects.