GDS to replace digital services framework

The Government Digital Service promises to develop its digital services framework from scratch, after months of complaints from suppliers and disappointing sales.

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The Government Digital Service has promised to radically overhaul the digital services framework after months of complaints from suppliers and disappointing sales.

Just £16.4 million has been spent through the framework since it was launched in November 2013, less than half of its target to have spent £40 million in the first nine months.

Suppliers have repeatedly complained the digital services framework is not fit for purpose, as it encourages body-shopping (buying people not projects) and focuses on short-term cost (day rates) over long-term value.

In response GDS has conceded it will need to redesign the framework from scratch and rename it.

“It has become clear from user research that Digital Services needs to be completely redesigned to the extent that it will essentially be a new framework,” digital commercial programme director Tony Singleton wrote in a blog post on GOV.UK.

He said the new framework will focus on supplying teams of digital specialists to public sector bodies focused on specific outcomes.

The post was light on details as GDS are relatively early on in the process, but Singleton promised to “think out loud as we develop the new digital services framework”.

The reaction to the announcement from suppliers on the framework was broadly positive.

Harry Metcalfe, managing director of web agency dxw, which is listed on the framework, said it was “great news”.

However he reserved full judgement until the procurement process gets underway, warning “the devil’s in the detail”. Metcalfe also expressed concern that the new framework may not be ready in time for when G-Cloud 5 expires.

G-Cloud 5 is the last iteration of G-Cloud that includes agile development services. It was originally due to expire on 22 May but was extended for six months until the end of November. This was to give GDS “sufficient time to review both the G-Cloud and the redesigned Digital Services frameworks to ensure they best meet customer needs”, according to Singleton.

Procurement for G-Cloud 7 is due to kick off in August, he added. 

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