Procurement: Digital transformation in the public sector

Digital Outcomes and Specialists
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Crown Commercial Service explain how the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 5 procurement framework enables digital transformation of the public sector

Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Digital Outcomes and Specialists procurement framework reached a new milestone this year, as it was announced that public sector organisations have now spent more than £2.5 billion through the agreement since it launched in 2016.

The latest version of the agreement — known as ‘DOS 5’ — went live in January, with 3,340 suppliers signed up to offer their digital expertise to support the public sector’s ongoing digital transformation.

The DOS 5 framework is designed to help the public sector buy, design, build and deliver bespoke digital solutions and services.

It is usually ‘reiterated’ every year, enabling new suppliers to join and to regularly update their offering with the latest innovative services.

The latest version sees the agreement continue to facilitate customers’ digital transformation while also creating opportunities for suppliers of all sizes.

How it works

The agreement is accessed through the Digital Marketplace, created in 2014 by CCS and Government Digital Service (GDS) to make government procurement easier and more transparent.

There are four solutions available to customers: digital outcomes, digital specialists, user research studios and user research participants.

DOS 5 is open now and will run for 12 months. The duration may be extended up to a further 12 months from the initial expiry date.

Call-off contracts placed under this agreement will have a maximum duration of two years, and customers have the option to extend the duration by up to 25% of the initial contract period (equal to a maximum of six months).

Levelling the playing field for all businesses

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework has been transformational for the UK public sector’s relationship with digital experts from the private sector, and particularly in the way it has enabled small, innovative businesses to benefit from supplying their services.

By simplifying the application process as much as possible, CCS is reducing the barriers that SMEs can face when seeking to supply to the public sector.

A third of spend through previous iterations of the agreement went directly to small and medium-sized businesses, and that is set to continue with 94% of the 3,340 suppliers on the new agreement SMEs.

The public sector has spent more than £2.5 billion through CCS’s DOS agreements since 2016, with 34% of that spend — more than £800 million — going directly to SMEs.

Agreements like DOS support the country to build back fairer by levelling the playing field for suppliers of all sizes. This supports the Government’s aspiration that 33% of central government spending will go to SMEs by 2022.

The supplier view

Paper, a Sheffield-based SME, is working with the Department for Education to design a service, provide programme strategy, and conduct user research to support schools buying goods and services like computer equipment and energy more efficiently and at best value.

Mark Goddard, Company Director and Service Designer at Paper said: “The framework is accessible for us in many ways. It reduces the time taken to work through requirements by making the structure of opportunities consistent, and its focus on users and the problem at hand suits the way we approach projects and qualify work.

“Organisations such as the DfE get to see us on a level playing field. Without the Digital Marketplace, being seen by the DfE or competing with larger competitors would be a lot harder.”

Farsight Consulting, a London-based SME who specialise in delivering digital transformation projects, has been awarded a place on DOS 5 after previously working with customers including the Department of Education.

The company worked with DfE on a discovery project looking at improving social care procurement systems.

Charlotte Hurst, Managing Director, Farsight Consulting said: “By providing a consistent way for public sector organisations to set out their needs, and by giving suppliers a way to demonstrate their quality, the DOS framework allows everyone to compete on the basis of their ingenuity, creativity, reliability and value.

“As a result, a relatively small SME such as Farsight has been privileged to be selected for many exciting and challenging projects – including winning some of the largest commercial tenders in the lifetime of the framework. The model is straightforward but flexible, and keeps the commercial side of things simple – so both Farsight and our clients can focus on delivering high-quality digital services for citizens and public sector workers.”

Find out more

You can find out more about DOS 5 by visiting the CCS website.


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Crown Commercial Service (CCS)


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