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Government plans £100m digital framework for agile development

A ‘neutral vendor’ will be responsible for providing suppliers to support government departments

The Government Procurement Service and the Government Digital Service (GDS) have agreed the need for a new 'digital procurement framework', which aims to provide government departments access to a pool of suppliers of agile software development.

It is hoped that the framework will support the government's recently unveiled Digital Strategy, which outlined plans to digitise thousands of transactions used by the public, in a bid to save the public sector £1.7 billion a year after 2015.

It also said that digitising transactions, such as paying car tax, booking driving tests, completing tax returns, or applying for pensions, could deliver savings of up to £1.2 billion over the next three years.

The new £100 million digital procurement framework aims make available a set of suppliers to government departments that provide agile software development services, which will be facilitated via a non-participating 'neutral vendor'.

The government has made commitments to agile development before, but has struggled to gain much praise, as it was seen to continue to hand hefty IT contracts to a handful of suppliers that typically work in a traditional waterfall approach. However, a multi-million pound framework dedicated solely to agile services is a sign that GDS is trying to formally push agile into the centre of IT government departments.

The 'neutral vendor' will be responsible for giving departments the ability to view which agile services are available, and from which suppliers; view a suppliers' track records through feedback from previous successes; and to nominate suppliers to be part of a competition where appropriate.

On top of this, the vendor will also have to facilitate competition activities, where departments wish to carry out market engagement events, hacks, prototypes and bounty events.

This fresh commitment to agile sits comfortably alongside a string of recent government announcements being driven by GDS, including the launch of the single government domain, GOV.UK, mandating all departments to adopt open standards, the launch of the second iteration of the Cloudstore, and the release of the government's Digital Strategy.

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