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Report of the Digital Government Review

Online buying: an Amazon for the public sector

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Online marketplaces are a well-established model outside of the public sector. The Cloudstore marketplace has supported the growth of the G-Cloud framework, but the current model appears suited to the needs of technical buyers in central government, rather than the needs of other public sector organisations or the desired outcomes of government policies.

There is no mechanism to search for suppliers in a given geographic area, there is little support for non-technical buyers (such as those in the education sector) and there is no ability to search for small businesses or social enterprises. Future policy requirements may include support for certain open standards, support for organisations offering ICT apprenticeships or proven integration with a government platform.

Recommendation 27

Priority: Medium

Government Digital Service should build on Digital Marketplace to support the search needs of differing buyer groups, to incorporate additional frameworks, and to encourage searches aligned with government policy

Similarly, there is no mechanism for a buyer to leave feedback on the quality or experience of dealing with a supplier. Making this information open will increase confidence and accountability.

It will provide additional guidance for the large groups of non-technical buyers in the private sector, such as those in the education sector, from whom support has been removed.

This feedback can be difficult to provide, there will be commercial constraints with some of the details and buyers may be reluctant to report bad purchases, but fundamentally this information should be open and transparent. We would recommend some experimentation to see if an appropriate model can be built.

Recommendation 28

Priority: Low

Government should experiment with open, online feedback about suppliers

“There is no process for engagement and improvement outside of framework competitions.” – Small Company

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