Department for Transport

Digital Travel Diary for the National Travel Survey (NTS) Alpha&Beta

13 Incomplete applications

12 SME, 1 large

24 Completed applications

19 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Monday 23 September 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 30 September 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 7 October 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Conduct alpha/beta in line with GDS criteria to develop and test feasible solutions which would enable a digital diary to collect better quality data, reduce respondent/interviewer burden and create processing efficiencies compared to the current paper diary for the National Travel Survey. Alpha experiments should be based on Discovery recommendations.
Latest start date
Friday 8 November 2019
Expected contract length
Alpha between 8-12 weeks, 4 weeks - GDS assessment, Beta tbd from outcome of Alpha.
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Transport
Budget range
Up to £200k for Alpha exclusive of VAT.

There will be the potential to extend to Beta and we expect suppliers at this early stage to suggest a time frame for Beta and costings.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The main component of the NTS is a one-week travel diary completed annually by 15,000 participants by pen and paper.

A Discovery concluded that a well-designed digital diary would better meet user needs than a paper diary as it could collect better quality data and reduce respondent burden.

The Discovery advised to test two prototypes - a web-based form replicating the paper diary as a Minimum Viable Product and an enhanced diary with additional features such as GPS to record journeys.

Alpha will design and test paper and digital prototypes for these diaries to identify solutions to develop in Beta.
Problem to be solved
Aim: Design a digital-diary which collects quality data, reduces respondent/interviewer burden and increase efficiencies.

Alpha will:
• Develop/test both the MVP and enhanced prototypes, identifying problems and finding solutions.
• Test features and research questions identified in the Discovery:
• Develop/test chosen option(s), demonstrating technical, financial, contractual and legal feasibility
• Provide indicative breakdown of system development and post-build lifetime costs (including hosting) for the MVP and enhanced diaries separately
• Establish how to create an efficient structure for processing diary data
• Identify whats required in Beta, highlighting risks/dependencies

The final products will be developed in Beta.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Survey participants

Alpha will need to test for solutions which would make a digital diary less of a burden for participants than a paper diary.

NTS Data users
DfT and OGDs use NTS data to inform their evidence base for transport planning and policy initiatives. Alpha will need to test for solutions which would better meet these users data requirements.

NTS team and contractor
Proposed solutions will need to meet Architecture Principles and Standards in order to create an efficient structure for processing diary data:

Survey Interviewers
Interviewers experience with conducting the survey will be valuable for this project.
Any work that’s already been done
Any work that’s already been done (Optional) (100 words)

A Discovery was recently conducted investigating whether a digital diary had the potential to reduce burden, improve data quality, create efficiencies and better meet user needs than a pen and paper travel diary. The Discovery provided recommendations and experiments for the Alpha phase. It is expected that the supplier will design the Alpha phase based on these recommendations and experiments.

The Discovery report is available at:
Existing team
The appointed agency will be expected to work closely with

• The NTS team, which consists of 4 statisticians
• The DfT Digital Team, which includes Architecture and Live Services
• NatCen, the NTS contractors who are responsible for conducting the survey
• Diary users and interviewers during user testing
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The majority of the work will be conducted at the suppliers own site (or other chosen location). The supplier will be expected to attend the premises of the NTS and NatCen teams when required (e.g. giving presentations). Conducting of user research may require travel around England. No Travel rates will to be incurred within the M25 corridor and any outside M25 The Departments Travel Rates will apply.

The NTS team is based at the DfT’s Great Minster House office (33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR). The NatCen team is based at 35 Northampton Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 0AX.
Working arrangements
Bidders to provide preferred approach. The exact milestones will be agreed with the successful bidder when appointed. Weekly status updates should be provided.

A report, presentation and working prototypes will be required for Alpha. This includes preparing and passing the prototypes for GDS Alpha service assessment and iterating how the Technology Code of Practice is met. Solution to be hosted on DfT’s Google Cloud platform, needs to align to DfT’s Digital and Technology Strategy and follow Architecture Principles & Standards. Knowledge and skills to be transferred to DfT so that final solution can be operated in-house.
Security clearance
BPSS – Baseline Personnel Security Standard.

Evidence of if BPSS is current or where you are in the process of obtaining BPSS will be requested as part of the written proposals @ stage 2 (not part of the word count)

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

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

Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrable evidence of successfully delivering alpha/beta phases in line with GDS criteria for a government department
  • Proven and demonstrable experience of designing and testing prototypes and identifying feasible solutions to the problem
  • Proven/demonstrable track record of delivering projects at speed using agile project management methodology with clearly identified deliverables/imescales, flexibility to make late changes and reformulating to maintain project progress
  • Demonstrable evidence of excellent coordination and communication skills with the team the supplier is contracted to
  • Demonstrable evidence of a robust risk management process
  • Experience of modelling and building different data structures to meet differing data requirements.
  • Experience of using data validation methods including using master and reference data to improve data quality during the process of data collection, transformation and analysis.
  • Experience of using data engineering approaches and technology to transform the structure/format of data to support different data requirements.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience in designing digital solutions which are transport related
  • Experience in designing digital solutions which are survey related

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Identify the approach/methodology to the Alpha project planning and delivery and identify the main stages and activities proposed at each stage. (15%)
  • How the approach or solution will address the research questions (10%)
  • Clear demonstration of how the approach or solution meets user needs including data users, survey respondents and survey interviewers (10%)
  • How risks and dependencies have been identified and what approaches have been offered to manage and mitigate them (10%)
  • Detailed resource plan – demonstrating how in-house, supplier and external resource will be used and at what stage (5%)
  • Estimated timeframes for the work (5%)
  • Suppliers must demonstrate experience in designing/developing end to end solutions (including front and back end) through a range of previous work for customers on a similar scale. (5%)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Experience of transparent and collaborative decision making (5%)
  • Experience of taking responsibility for their work and resolving problems effectively (5%)
  • Evidence of strategic thinking striving to deliver best possible solution/concept possible. (5%)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. One of the essential skills and experience criteria asks for evidence of having 'delivered alpha/beta phases in line with GDS criteria for a government department'.

If we can demonstrate having met a Digital Service Standard or similar, would this be considered?
Yes, if a supplier shows evidence of, and demonstrates having met a similar standard, this would be acceptable.
2. The DOS ad is for both alpha and beta but mentions a budget of £200k for alpha only. Will the winning supplier automatically be eligible for the beta work if the project proceeds to that stage?
If DfT are satisfied with the performance of the supplier during Alpha and their proposals and estimated costs for Beta, then Beta may be awarded to the supplier. Our preference would be for the Alpha supplier to conduct Beta but this will not be automatically awarded.

For Beta the successful supplier would also need to meet appropriate security standards as Beta will likely involve collecting live data. Proceeding to Beta will also depend on passing a GDS Assessment.
3. The DOS ad requests that “at this early stage” you expect suppliers to estimate beta time-frame and costs. Do you mean at this Stage 1, or only at Stage 2 after shortlisting?
This should be evidenced at stage 2 after short listing.
4. For the question "Proven and demonstrable experience of designing and testing prototypes and identifying feasible solutions to the problem". Are you looking for a single example?
You may use one or multiple examples, whichever you consider would be best for your application.

When considering how many examples to give, keep in mind the word limit and the need to give sufficient detail in what you did. It is fine to provide a single example.
5. Can you clarify what you mean by "identifying feasible solutions"? Sometimes in an Alpha the outcome may be that the service isn't feasible or practical or affordable.
The aim is to identify something that meets the requirements within an acceptable budget. That is correct, Alpha may conclude that it is not possible to achieve this, even if this is not the desired outcome.
6. Can you provide some context around the question, "Proven/demonstrable track record of delivering projects at speed using agile project management methodology with clearly identified deliverables/imescales, flexibility to make late changes and reformulating to maintain project progress".

What do DfT view as Speed?

Also by default agile is about having flexibility to adjust scope and re-planning? How would you like suppliers to evidence use of agile?
We would like you to demonstrate evidence of how you have used agile project management principles to successfully deliver a project, including demonstrating flexibility.

In terms of delivering at speed, we would like you to demonstrate how you identified deliverables, timescales and achieved these deliverables on time to a high standard.

We estimate that the Alpha project will take around 8 weeks, although bidders may set out their own timescales in their proposal if they are successful in getting to the next round
7. Can you provide an example of "excellent coordination and communication skills "?
It will be up the bidder to identify an provide examples of excellent coordination and communication skills.
8. In the Discovery report it was recommended that the Alpha be " a set of proof of concept prototypes for the MVP and enhanced methods detailed in the recommendations'. Is this the scope for the Alpha?
DfT would like you to design prototypes for a MVP and enhanced diary, using the Discovery report as a basis for which features to include/test. Some prioritisation may be needed as the discovery report covers many recommendations.

DfT aren't expecting a working prototype at the end of Alpha and the use of dummy data rather than live real data testing would be sufficient.

The beta-phase is where you should take your best idea from alpha and start building it for real. It also involves thinking about how your service will integrate with existing services, and prepare for transition to live.
9. Could you confirm if question 10, "Experience in designing digital solutions which are survey related", is a question about physical surveys (eg: environmental/structural) or question related surveys such as questions to user groups?
This is referring to question related surveys.