Public Services > Central Government

GDS outlines initial DOS functions ahead of delayed launch

Neil Merrett Published 08 March 2016

Stakeholder questions viability of April launch date for agreement without looking to wider development community for Digital Marketplace coding support


The Government Digital Service (GDS) has said it remains committed to launching the Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) agreement by the middle of next month, with the 'earliest usable product' set to go live without a number of desirable, yet non-essential functions.

After originally being scheduled to go live in February, the Digital Marketplace team expects organisations by mid-April to be able to publish their requirements and information on supplier evaluations online, while also viewing a shortlist of service providers expressing interest in a project.

With award notices for the agreement now released, one stakeholder with knowledge of the DOS tender has warned that delays to the launch before the end of the current financial year were a "missed opportunity" at a time when future public sector technology service spending is finalised.

The same source also questioned the current capabilities of the Digital Marketplace to host the agreement and whether the required work may mean further delays that could potentially extend into May.

Although uncertain of the exact reasons behind the delay of the agreement, the stakeholder claimed that the decision to build the marketplace from scratch, using open source code where possible, was not being capitalised on by GDS.

With suppliers that have been awarded places on DOS now waiting for the agreement to actually go live, the source argued that the wider development community could be courted to assist with certain code held on hosting sites like Github.

DOS, which will replace the second iteration of the Digital Services Framework (DSF2) on the Digital Marketplace, has been devised to provide a wider number of digital outcomes including user research functions, rather than focusing solely on supplying skilled individuals.

The initial launch of DOS is not expected to include features that would allow for notifying successful suppliers and giving feedback to unsuccessful applications, signing a contract digitally and generating statements of work.

As part of ongoing research, the Digital Marketplace team said it has created a prototype of the agreement and doubled user research sessions to be more iterative with its design.

"We looked at the buying journey we'd mapped out and considered the complexity of building each step and how much that step would improve the user experience," said GDS in a blog post.

"We found that although some of these steps would be good to have on the Digital Marketplace, they weren't essential for launch so we've left them out at this stage."

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