The Great British Digital Outcomes Armchair Audit – Your Vote is Needed!

Harry Metcalfe of digital tech and services firm DXW has featured previously on Spend Matters UK/Europe with his initiatives and efforts as a supplier to help UK government tech procurement get its house in order.

He has now turned his attention to how buyers who are using the UK government DOS framework describe their opportunities when they advertise for framework members to submit proposals. This is what he said in a recent blog post on the DCX website.

“The Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework launched in April 2016, replacing the Digital Services Framework (DSF). Both are attempts to make it easier to pay people to make new digital services for the public sector. The DSF was not very successful. DOS’s design is much better aligned with the way projects are delivered, and easier for buyers and suppliers to use. But, like any framework, it has its problems.

One that we have been frustrated by for a long time is the standard of the opportunities that are published on the Marketplace. Some are very clear, but many are not. Some are essentially incomprehensible* to all but a handful of incumbent suppliers”.

So rather than just criticising the poorly written submissions, Metcalfe wants to gather more objective data on how people perceive the usefulness of the descriptions.

He has therefore developed a survey which gives readers an extract from an “advertisement” published in the last few weeks and asks us to vote on whether it is a useful description – whether it meets the guidance provided and is generally clear. You can vote in four ways, to say the text is “not even slightly” useful, or it is not good but “not awful”, or OK, or great. I’ve been through and marked a dozen or so extracts and without biasing anyone else, I wasn’t too impressed in general although there were exceptions!

The cynic in me wonders if this is because in many cases buyers don’t actually want too many unexpected proposals to be submitted - they go into this process having in reality already decided who they want to win the work. But anyway, when enough responses have been received, the data will be analysed and Metcalfe will share the results with his readers and the Government Digital Service and perhaps Crown Commercial service too.

“Hopefully, by making this information open and making it available to suppliers, CCS and GDS, we can make a useful contribution to the ongoing process of improving procurement for digital services. We hope it will give some clarity about what the common problems with opportunities are, and set the scene for a discussion on ways to solve them.

Ultimately, clearer opportunities will ensure there is a wider, more diverse pool of suppliers, which will provide greater value for money for the public sector, a better choice of suppliers and better services for users”.

Those are very worthwhile objectives (very much aligned with the Public Spend Forum mission actually, so we applaud his efforts and it would be helpful if as many people as possible take a look at the examples and vote – it’s quite fun too, if somewhat depressing in certain cases!

This is one he links to as an example of incomprehensibility – “Delivery of P3M activities in support of the Defence as a Platform Future DaaP(F) Concept and Assessment Phase. This will include delivering the IGBC, MGBC(s), COEIA(s), ISS and non-ISS Opportunities Assessment, governance, transition and project support, managing the DaaP(F) Service Integration Office”.

 

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