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Digital Marketplace to 'go wholesale'



Head of programme Warren Smith outlines future principles for simplification of procurement

A 'wholesale' approach to procurement frameworks, improvements in data quality and simplified contracts are among the priorities for the future of the Digital Marketplace, its interim programme director has indicated.

Warren Smith, speaking at the Think Cloud for Digital Government conference, outlined the plans as part of some general principles on which an updated strategy for the digital services procurement channel will be based.

The document will be published after the new Government Digital Strategy – the release date for which is still unknown – but Smith said the “teasers” provide an indication of current thinking on the priorities.

One of these is to make it possible for authorities to use the Marketplace as a basis for their own frameworks. He said the move is an effort to accelerate the simplification of public sector procurement.

“We want any public sector contracting authority to be able to open and award procurement frameworks within the Digital Marketplace,” he said. “We'll work with the Crown Commercial Service on iterating the plans.”

Another significant element, previously flagged up by the CCS, is to simplify contracts to make them more attractive to users.

“We've done the hard work to produce new user and customer digital procurement templates for working across government,” Smith said. “Now we're working with CCS and the Government Legal Department on a user-centred approach to contract design, and want the Digital Marketplace to be right for what users prefer.”

He also pointed to the development of an open contracting data standard to improve the quality of data for buyers and suppliers, and to make procurements more transparent to the public.

“It represents a great opportunity to improve the quality of data,” he said. “Part of that is looking at registers, and working with the team in the Government Digital Service to develop a canonical list of public sector organisations.”

This reflects the differences in the way organisations are labelled by themselves and others, which can sometimes present problems in identifying who is buying from the frameworks. Smith said the Digital Marketplace team and CCS are still some way from having an authoritative trusted list but they are working on the issue.

Other principles include supporting an end-to-end approach to achieving 'digital by default', educating and supporting buyers, and making data more usable for analysis.

Smith also acknowledged that local government has so far made relatively little use of the Marketplace, and said the team wants to learn what it needs from the channel and will look at how frameworks could be redesigned to meet councils' needs. But this is expected to take some time to put into effect.

Image from iStock


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