Working on government digital projects – an event to start showcasing what can be achieved

Whilst the focus of GDS has quite rightly been on the forthcoming release of GOV.UK on the 17th October, a small team in GDS has been working on how we engage with digital companies working with government. An early output of this work was an event on the 17th September 2012 where a small number of suppliers spoke to government departments about a digital product / service that they’ve delivered. Here Mike Beaven explains what the event was about.

Let me start by describing the event. We brought together 9 SMEs that have delivered a digital project into government and gave them the opportunity to showcase that project to around 20 people from 13 government bodies. The reality however is that there’s more to it than that as the projects that were showcased demonstrated one or ideally more of the following cornerstones of the GDS approach:

  • adopting a user centric approach
  • using an open source / open standards solution
  • using agile methodologies – early release and iterate
  • not looking to ‘tie-in’ the customer through either proprietary software or a lengthy commercial arrangements

The lead-up to the event led to a number of questions but three main themes emerged:

  • ‘Why SMEs only?’ – GDS has been excellently served by the SME community and we’re working towards achieving the Coalition aspiration that 25% of Central Government procurement spend should go to SMEs by the end of this Parliament (2015). We do however recognise that there are many companies who do not meet the strict definition of SME but should nevertheless be given the opportunity to showcase their work.
  • ‘Why these companies?’ – The simple answer is that you have to start somewhere and these companies are aligned with the GDS approach and are already on one of the government purchasing mechanisms. They are therefore able to meet any immediate purchasing needs. Once again, we do recognise that we should be broadening the base of suppliers that deliver digital capability into government are we’re looking at ways of making that easier. I would encourage companies to visit the Governement Procurement Services web page for more information on supplying to government.
  • ‘What about future events?’ – The plan is to hold future events where we’ll be looking to showcase new companies, non SMEs and holding events around the UK. The key however will always be that there must be an alignment with the GDS approach.

For the record, the companies that presented are listed below but if you’re interested in presenting at future events, please contact me or my colleague Louis Hyde

Supplier Topic
Agile Delivery Network E Petitions – Government Digital Service
Ajartec AV work delivered using agile methodology for London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG)
DXW ‘The Loop’, a social collaboration site built for Ministry of Justice
Helpful Technology Public Reading Stage project for Cabinet Office / Leader of the House of Commons
Kainos Electoral Reform Transformation Programme (ERTP) Alpha / Beta
Memset Estyn Hosting
Reading Room NHS London Open source Content Management (Drupal)
Sirius IT Government Digital Service Open source Content Management (Drupal)
Skyscape Government Digital Service Hosting


  1. It is a real shame GDS only engages with SME’s that support Open Source solutions. This seems counter to the much more inclusive G-Cloud initiative to promote commodity cloud services.

    1. Hi

      We don’t exclusively use open standards. We don’t only work with SMEs either. It is a preference around reducing cost and lock in. We also use GCloud heavily as a route to market. So rest assured there is no counter, just horses for courses.


      Michael Beaven

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s