In a Digital Marketplace blog post, Warren Smith, assistant director of the Government Digital Service’s G-Cloud and Digital Commercial Programme, has spoken about the service’s attempt to create simpler, clearer contracts for the Digital Services framework.
As he explains at the start of the post: “We know that the majority of buyers and suppliers who read the procurement documentation aren’t legal professionals so we’d like to make our contracts reflect this.”
He added that, following two further contract design workshops, the multidisciplinary team has started redesigning the Digital Services contract. They have already lowered the word count by over 40 per cent and hope to reduce it further for the final version.
In order to make the contract more accessible, it will begin with a summary outlining the key information and data – allowing buyers and suppliers to obtain important contractual information quickly and efficiently.
Other changes include making government contracts more transparent, in line with the Procurement Policy Note 13/15.
Smith said: “This will mean that the data in a contract, such as details of the goods and services being bought and total value of the award, can be more easily disclosed in a reusable and machine-readable format. Data held within the contract will align with the Open Contracting Data Standard schema.”
Another aim is to make the contract more digital, with less documentation. In order to reduce the contract length, the team hopes to host “‘boilerplate’ clauses online” – which are the clauses which do not change. They will then be linked from the buyer and supplier-specific contract, so that they are published once opposed to be reproduced for every contract made.
In order to simplify the whole process, the team aim to automatically fill out parts of the contract using details set out in the Request for Proposal (RF) stage. A prototype of the RFP process – which will “sit within the Digital Marketplace” – has already started being developed. Smith said: “We’ll be looking to link this with the creation of the call-off contract, following award”.
In addition to the redesign of contracts for the Digital Services framework, the blog post also features opportunities “beyond” this and within government legal documents. These include: “use of images”, “making documents consistent” and “drafting contracts collaboratively”.