Government hits just 28 percent of digital framework sales target

The government has reached less than a third of its target to spend £40 million through the Digital Services framework (DSf) by August 2014.

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The government has reached less than a third of its target to spend £40 million through the Digital Services framework (DSf) by August 2014.

Instead, Whitehall is set to spend just £11 million - 28 percent of the promised sum - through the Digital Services framework (DSf) on 30 contracts, according to figures seen exclusively by ComputerworldUK.

Of the £11 million set to be awarded, just £1.5 million has actually been invoiced so far.

The original OJEU notice for DSf, published in July last year, said that the entire duration of the framework agreement would be nine months and the estimated total value of purchases during that period would be £40 million. The Government Digital Service confirmed the details in a blog post published at the time.

The Cabinet Office now claims this figure was an estimate “for the lifetime of the framework”.

Help to deliver digital services

DSf was set up in November last year with a goal of helping the public sector design, build and deliver digital services more easily by buying expertise such as service designers, delivery managers or agile software developers, through a single procurement framework.

The framework allows government bodies to contract with suppliers for individual roles to join their existing digital teams on site, or create entire digital teams to work on developing digital services using Agile methods.

ComputerworldUK understands that 23 contracts have been awarded so far via the framework, with seven more awaiting final signature or purchase orders.

The invoiced value of the 23 contracts awarded so far is believed to be £1.5 million. The value of the seven call-off contracts waiting to be signed off is £9.5 million, bringing the total value of contracts awarded through the DSf to £11 million.

This is an increase on the last DSf sales figures the Cabinet Office released in May, which showed that the government awarded nine contracts worth £2.3 million. It is not clear how much of this was invoiced, but the Cabinet Office said that 30 percent of the contracts had gone to SMEs.

The 30 contracts are believed to have gone to 18 suppliers, 10 of which are SMEs. There are 175 suppliers listed on the framework, 83 percent of which are SMEs.

On the listing on its website, the Crown Commercial Service said DSf provides the public sector with access to "a large, diverse pool of capable suppliers from SMEs to the agile practices of the traditional tier-one/system integration suppliers."

Contracts procured through DSf so far include two awarded by the Department for Work & Pensions in April, one of which is for a private beta version of Universal Credit, with the other for a beta of its new state pension system.

Upcoming contracts

Regarding future contracts the Ministry of Justice is planning to use DSf for its project to digitise the criminal justice process.

The NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are among other public sector bodies expected to use DSf for projects.

'Digital Marketplace'

The DSf is supposed to be a ‘dynamic’ style procurement akin to G-Cloud and when it was launched last year the government said it would be refreshed after six months.

The second procurement was due in May but it emerged last month that the framework has now been extended until March next year.

It has yet to go to market for a second iteration despite launching almost a year ago.

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

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is currently working to launch the ‘Digital Marketplace’ an online tech catalogue for the public sector initially comprising G-Cloud and DSf.

An alpha version of the new website is available and it will replace the CloudStore as the place to buy G-Cloud services at the end of this month, with the DSf catalogue due to be added by the end of 2014.

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