Exclusive: CCS sends letters stating 'Agile Development' being removed from G-Cloud 4 onwards. GDS denies.

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez February 16, 2015
The news will likely cause a stir amongst both buyers and suppliers, given that the Digital Services Framework is considered unworkable for many.

The Crown Commercial Service has sent letters to suppliers claiming that it is actively removing Agile development services from search results on the Digital Marketplace, as part of an assurance process that aims to strip 'Agile Development' from G-Cloud 4 and onwards.

However, the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service have denied the claims and said that 'Agile' services will be remaining on the frameworks.

The confusion is likely to cause quite a stir amongst both buyers and clients, whom are trying to avoid using the very troubled and much slated Digital Services Framework. Many people, including myself, have called for a complete redesign of the flawed DSF.

It was initially thought that Agile Development services would remain live on G-Cloud 5 until its time on the Digital Marketplace came to an end, which appeased some of the concerns over the services being stripped from G-Cloud 6. This would give time for DSF to be redesigned.

For those unaware, the G-Cloud was designed in a way that means that due to quick iterations, two frameworks run concurrently and are live at the same time – meaning that G-Cloud 5 and G-Cloud 6 would both appear on the Digital Marketplace for some time.

Buyers had been using the G-Cloud to buy Agile Development services, which makes up a lot of the spend on the framework, but the Crown Commercial Service and GDS have been trying to force buying on to the Digital Services Framework. Hence the removal of such services from G-Cloud 6.

If the services are being stripped from G-Cloud 4 onwards, buyers would have little choice but to use the Digital Services Framework. However, the DSF has experienced a heavy backlash from suppliers and buyers, with many claiming that it has been reduced to nothing more than a 'body-shop' for departments to buy cheap labour, which doesn't fit with the digital design needs of Whitehall.

I'm also being told that buyers don't want to go anywhere near the Digital Services Framework, but are being reprimanded by procurement if they try to do anything else.

To reiterate, the Cabinet Office has denied the claims to me.

However, I am aware that more than one supplier has been sent the following letter in recent days:

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Which begs the question, what the hell is going on?

If GDS is telling the truth and it isn't stripping the services from G-Cloud, why is an assurance team in the Crown Commercial Service still sending out letters to suppliers?

If GDS is telling the truth, why isn't it aligned with the messages coming out of the Crown Commercial Service?

Given that the letters have gone out, does this mean that the Crown Commercial Service is backtracking? Why?

My take

More questions than answers, but the best we can hope for is that GDS is listening to the community and is forcing CCS to toe the line. Albeit, an ever shifting line.

But many will be concerned by the lack of alignment between the two organisations.

I've been told that we can expect more information out of GDS later today – let's see what they have to say.

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