Improving DOS framework tenders
dxw Founder Harry Metcalfe writes about their DOS framework tender research and how we can improve the quality of the opportunities for both suppliers and buyers.
The Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework launched in April 2016 to replace the Digital Services Framework. 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, on the other hand, 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.
Evaluating DOS framework tenders
One that we were 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 in October 2017, we built a tool in order to discover exactly what suppliers were finding frustrating and would provide some objective answers.
The tool gathered people’s votes and used it to generate some statistics about opportunities.
Almost 3000 votes were cast on 31 opportunities during November and December and we discovered that a whopping 65% of them were rated as “generally bad” and 89% of opportunities had a phrase which was inappropriate for the work.
This is a huge missed opportunity. The public sector’s supplier base is smaller and less varied than it could be. And in individual procurements, these misunderstandings must surely mean that contracts are not always awarded to the best supplier for the job. Ultimately, this leads to poorer outcomes for users.
How to make Digital Outcomes and Specialists better
What’s needed now is guidance, training, and practical support for buyers. By making this information open and making it available to suppliers, CCS and GDS, we can hopefully 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. Going forward we hope to see:
- Quality assurance of opportunities prior to publication, to ensure they meet a defined content standard and contain work that’s appropriate for the framework
- Practical help and support for buyers from a team containing a mixture of seasoned digital and commercial operators from GDS and CCS
- Published quality measures for opportunities, bids and outcomes so that we can see how changes in the digital marketplace affect the quality of services received by buyers in the long-term.
There is still work to be done to make the DOS framework the best it can be for buyers and suppliers. Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3 is coming out this July, we hope to see some of the changes reflected in this newest iteration.