Cabinet Office delays second iteration of digital services framework

The Cabinet Office has extended the first iteration of the Digital Services framework (DSf) until 31 March 2015.

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The Cabinet Office has extended the first iteration of the Digital Services framework (DSf) until 31 March 2015.

The first round of DSf was launched in November 2013 and the second iteration was due to take place in May this year, according to a blog post on GOV.UK.

However it will now be well over a year between the first and second iterations, far longer than originally envisaged.

The DSf aims to help the public sector design, build and deliver digital services by allowing organisations to buy expertise such as service designers, delivery managers or developers, to help deliver agile software development.

The first iteration of DSf was launched in November 2013 and the second iteration was due to take place in May this year, according to a blog post on GOV.UK last year.

In a blog post published today, the Government Digital Service (GDS) said: “We’re aiming to have the second iteration live by the end of 2014.”

The Cabinet Office expected £40 million to be spent through the framework in its first nine months. There are 175 suppliers on the framework, 83 percent of which are SMEs.

However the latest publicly available figures show that just £2.3 million has been spent through DSf so far, of which 30 percent by value has gone to SMEs.

Nine contracts have been awarded since it was launched in November 2013, five of which have gone to SMEs.

A supplier to DSf who wished to remain anonymous told ComputerworldUK that part of the reason for the delay is ongoing negotiations between GDS and the Crown Commercial Service over the terms and conditions of the next round of the framework.

DSf has been criticised for using day rates, instead of full lifetime contract costs, to judge the value of contracts.

The Small Software Association (SSA), an industry body representing SME software firms, has described day rates as “an extremely poor measure of value” as “SMEs can provide innovative solutions that drastically cut the number of days required” and they are “easily gamed by large businesses”.

Both the G-Cloud catalogue ‘CloudStore’ and the DSf’s online ‘Digital Services Store’ are due to be replaced by the ‘Digital Marketplace’ later this year.

The GDS blog post said: “We’ve included the DSf in the regular user research for the Digital Marketplace. This has given us valuable insight and we’ll be using this to review the approach for the second iteration of the framework, as well as improvements to the Digital Services Store.

“We’ll keep you informed as to when the contract notice is ready to be published in Tenders Electronic Daily.”

ComputerworldUK asked the Cabinet Office for comment but is yet to receive a response.

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