Cabinet Office

Filing and Sorting Emails (Alpha)

Incomplete applications

15
Incomplete applications
10 SME, 5 large

Completed applications

24
Completed applications
18 SME, 6 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Wednesday 14 August 2019
Deadline for asking questions Wednesday 21 August 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Wednesday 28 August 2019 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work Build and test approaches for a tool/service that imports emails and categorises them against criteria for retention, sensitivity and topic area (using pre-defined ontologies/taxonomies).

This service should then help civil servants manage their inbox and help keep linked and useful records of government business.
Latest start date Monday 30 September 2019
Expected contract length Four Months
Location No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for Cabinet Office
Budget range Between £200-300k inc. VAT

We hope that this range allows for a variety of solutions and approaches to be proposed. In particular, we recognise that some SMEs may need to submit consortium bids.

All travel, subsistence and other expenses must be included in the overall cost.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done This work is being done as part of an early phase of the Better Information for Better Government programme. This is a cross-government initiative to improve how government manages its digital information and facilitates collaboration online. The Cabinet Office is leading work to adapt core processes and attitudes to information in departments to fit with new digital ways of working in the 21st century civil service.
Problem to be solved Too many important emails that we need for the business of government are hard to find. We risk damaging our productivity and reputation by not addressing our information management issues.
Who the users are and what they need to do We have a backlog of epics, including:

As an inquirer, I need to be able to discover and access emails relevant to my task

As a worker, I need to be able to find an email I sent or received so that my emails are managed

As a worker, I need to stay in line with the law so that neither me or my team get in trouble

As a KIM manager, I need to transfer emails to national archives in a sensible way so that everyone has confidence that things weren't lost
Early market engagement Discussions with SMEs around previous work in this field to review for costs and achievements.
Any work that’s already been done We have completed a discovery phase into this work, as well as discoveries into similar aspects of the problem. We have a small team working on managing the project, conducting additional research and managing relationships with stakeholders across the civil service.

The discovery report will be shared with shortlisted suppliers.
Existing team You'll be working with our internal team: a technology lead, a product manager and a service owner.
Current phase Alpha

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Supplier can work remotely or from own premises. Face to face meetings are likely to be in London.
Working arrangements We hope to co-locate the product manager with the team for around half the time in each sprint to act as subject matter expert and to be a core part of development.
Security clearance All members of the team need at least BPSS.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions We may need to agree additional clauses on security and data protection with the supplier due to the sensitivity of the data being handled.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Have experience of digital projects handling sensitive data at scale (4 points)
  • Have experience using machine learning technologies (4 points)
  • Have experience of building software for users at work who have limited freedom to choose their tools (4 points)
  • Have experience of working in an agile way on projects with numerous stakeholders in multiple organisations (4 points)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of open data and open standards (2 points)
  • Experience of working with government departmental security teams (2 points)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 4
Proposal criteria
  • Approach and methodology (7 points)
  • How the approach meets user needs (5 points)
  • How the approach meets your organisation’s policy or goal (5 points)
  • How the supplier intends to ensure effective knowledge transfer (8 points)
  • How they’ve identified risks and dependencies and offered approaches to manage them (5 points)
  • Team structure (3 points)
  • Estimated timeframes for the work (2 points)
  • Value for money (5 points)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Experience working in an agile and distributed way including documented processes (such as a playbook) for team working that we can look through. (8 points)
  • Evidence of open and colaborative working, both internally and with clients. Relevant examples could include work on open source projects, open data, open standards. (6 points)
  • Experience of working in contexts with complex security and data requirements (6 points)
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Would the solution need accreditation? The product is likely to need some level of accreditation, but the level of accreditation will likely depend on the architecture of the tool. Part of the alpha will involve working with Cabinet Office security.
2. Does the budget include any hardware? The budget would need to cover any proposed hardware costs.
3. Do you already have a training data set? We have data sets based around documents matched to an ontology that we believe could be used as training data.
4. Can you please share now the completed discovery phase into this work, as well as discoveries into similar aspects of the problem so that we can decide whether to go for this opportunity or not? Discovery reports will be shared with shortlisted suppliers, we are keen to see approaches from suppliers for the needs we've expressed.
5. Is the email platform on-prem, 3rd party hosted or in the cloud? Most civil service email is hosted in the cloud, archived physical Exchange and Lotus notes servers exist.
6. Is this considered an on premise only solution or can a cloud service be considered? We intend to follow the Government's cloud first policy. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-cloud-first-policy
7. Does the user need to be able to access filed emails from within the client application or can they be accessed from a web portal that stores the emails that the user needs? We are keen to see a variety of approaches to this problem, however, most of our research suggests that adding extra steps of software or logins will present friction that users are keen to avoid, and suppliers should aim to address users' needs to not have to go out of their way to find things.
8. Do pre-sales activities need to be carried out by individuals with BPSS clearance? No
9. Hi there, we are a SME and would like to ask a question re BPSS. Does that need to be in place at point of application, or can that follow? If the supplier is confident that they can manage securing BPSS checks for project staff before the start date, we would be satisfied with that.
10. What’s the impact of mis-labeled data or the if data mis-classificated? For this stage of work, minimal. We hope that the alpha will allow us to assess whether this approach to archived emails is good or not. At this stage we would not expect the results of the tool to be driving business decisions or be managing live inboxes or data transfer to official archives. In the future, we would like to include human reinforcement of decisions.
11. Do you expect email content to be classified in real time (as they arrive in a users Inbox) or as a batch process scheduled automatically/manually? Either approach would be acceptable.
12. Do you have an incumbent supplier? No.
13. Please can you share which suppliers have done pre work? The discovery DOS opportunity was published here https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/5844 and was awarded to Hippo Digital.
14. Please can you share which suppliers have done pre work on similar aspects of the problem? The discovery DOS opportunity was published here https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/5844 and was awarded to Hippo Digital.
15. Which suppliers you been previously working on this please? The discovery DOS opportunity was published here https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/5844 and was awarded to Hippo Digital.
16. Is there an incumbent supplier that will be allowed to bid on this opportunity? For example, will the supplier that did the discovery work be allowed to bid on this opportunity? If yes, can you please share the name of this supplier? The previous supplier finished work on discovery over a year ago and so is not incumbent. The discovery DOS opportunity was published here https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/5844 and was awarded to Hippo Digital.
17. Is the tool expected to be deployed onto user devices as standalone software and/or a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution? We are not proscribing an approach, we anticipate that this stage of work will focus on understanding how to tag and organise emails. Most civil servants use cloud based email tools over multiple devices so we would need to see a strong justification for a standalone approach.
18. What email systems must this system import data from? Server-based technology (directly from Office 365 or G-Suite) and/or end-client technology (Outlook or macOS mail client)? Our users use both MS Office and Gsuite, however it has an archive of older, pre-cloud in house email servers covering many different versions. The supplier's approach should try to be agnostic about the technology involved. Many different configurations are used across government and we would be interested in approaches that emphasise the possibility of importing from many different data sources.
19. What existing email metadata tagging is in place? Very little while email is held by users. As it is archived and if it is selected for retention in archives, then more metadata is added at the point of being sent to the National Archives.
20. How are users expected to authenticate to this tool and be assigned roles/groups (permission and access structures)? We do not anticipate deploying this software to users during the course of the alpha. While the software will need to have the capability for permissioning, it will be a discussion as to whether this is a priority for alpha development.
21. What is the email server software currently used? On premise Exchange or Office 365 or? Our users use both MS Office and Gsuite, however it has an archive of older, pre-cloud in house email servers covering many different versions. The supplier's approach should try to be agnostic about the technology involved. Many different configurations are used across government and we would be interested in approaches that emphasise the possibility of importing from many different data sources.
22. Is searching within the content of emails required? Yes
23. Which versions of Exchange does the Cabinet Office use? (Assume the Cabinet Office is using Microsoft Exchange as it's email platform) Our users use both MS Office and Gsuite, however it has an archive of older, pre-cloud in house email servers covering many different versions. The supplier's approach should try to be agnostic about the technology involved. Many different configurations are used across government and we would be interested in approaches that emphasise the possibility of importing from many different data sources.
24. What Email platform does the CO use? And which version(s) Our users use both MS Office and Gsuite, however it has an archive of older, pre-cloud in house email servers covering many different versions. The supplier's approach should try to be agnostic about the technology involved. Many different configurations are used across government and we would be interested in approaches that emphasise the possibility of importing from many different data sources.
25. Is there a list of Cabinet Office approved platforms? No.
26. Does the Cabinet Office have an existing Taxonomy? Can it be shared now? There are numerous taxonomies in and around government for archiving public data. Cabinet Office does not have a unique taxonomy. Comparable taxonomies that should be used for reference include Parliament (https://api.parliament.uk/vocabulary/browser), GOV.UK (https://ukgovdatascience.github.io/govuk-taxonomy-viz/20190712_taxonomy-hierarchy-tree.html#interactive-tree) and WikiData.
27. How is the Cabinet Officing looking to explore and link to data? Browser, Outlook, other? We have no fixed preference for approach. Supplier should demonstrate the advantage of their preferred choice, preferably with user research/qualitative use data.
28. Are there any expected restrictions or constraints on the technical solution deployment and operation? Yes, the TCOP (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/technology-code-of-practice/technology-code-of-practice) and NCSC Cloud Guidance (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/cloud-security?curPage=/collection/cloud-security/implementing-the-cloud-security-principles)
29. Are Cabinet Office users experienced in the use of advanced filters and mail rules? Both end users and Admins? Most departments have a dedicated Knowledge and Information Management team who are experienced with handling email data. Users have different levels of familiarity with rules and filters. Our preference is for approaches that do not place extra responsibilities on the user.
30. Would Cabinet Office allow sample email data be exported from a production system to a airgapped network for alpha testing? Or would the Cabinet Office create dummy data? We anticipate using a copy of archived email data and document archives rather than live systems as training data, although we are willing to use live data (pending agreement of the Security team). Choices on where this data is hosted would need to be made during the project. We also have documents classified into an ontology to use as training data.
31. Do you already have a platform which you are testing? No.
32. Does the Cabinet Office have a non production network already setup suitable for testing ? No.
33. Are there any requirements when transferring emails to the national archives (e.g. to be encrypted) Email across government conforms to these recommendations https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/email-security-and-anti-spoofing
34. Does the organisation send and receive encrypted emails? Email across government conforms to these recommendations https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/email-security-and-anti-spoofing
35. Are there any data sovereignty requirements for the data and the code within the scope of this project? No specific data sovereignty requirements have been found at this time.
36. Will there be a rule book/governance framework supplied on the types categorisation aligned to retention/sensitivity/topic/sender- government sector We aim to develop one over the course of the alpha using pre-existing taxonomies and retention policies.
37. Are there any limitations or preferences on the choice of tooling/software proposed? (other than for security/data governance) No. We are keen to see a range of approaches from suppliers. If a supplier believes they know the right tooling for the problem, we are keen to hear why.
38. How are users authenticated when logging on to their email? Is it by Microsoft Active Directory/Azure Active Directory? Different departments use different approaches, some use AD, some use Gsuite, but an OAuth style approach is usual.
39. Can you clarify by what you mean by Knowledge System? And does this need or is currently hosted on-prem? We are looking at how to support knowledge transfer across the civil service. We haven’t specifically mentioned a knowledge system, but our user needs are around finding information more easily, so we are aiming to support that need with well designed software and service design that puts the users' needs at the heart of finding information.
40. Is there an email archiving facility already in place? If so, what is it or what is the name of the product? There is no email archiving solution in place.
41. Is there expectations that the tool will identify trending phrases creating a new categorisation to match e.g. queries relating to new benefits mentioned in the Autumn statement There is no immediate expectation of this, we believe managing changes over time will be a problem we approach as the software moves towards access to live data.
42. An assumption is that legacy emails and boxes are within the scope of this project? Yes
43. At what point of the email cycle is the tool expected to engage? (Organised at point of receipt or as an archiving exercise?) The tool will eventually need to engage with both live and archived emails, however we expect the alpha to be more focused on proving the approach than deploying live line-of-business software.
44. How should attachments be handled? We do not have a preferred approach. We are keen to explore and test options for attachments as part of the alpha, but the main scope of the project is email data.