Awarded to PA Consulting Services Limited (UK)

Start date: Tuesday 4 February 2020
Value: £2,000,000
Company size: large
Department for International Trade

Innovation Lab: Data Science managed service team

17 Incomplete applications

15 SME, 2 large

37 Completed applications

21 SME, 16 large

Important dates

Tuesday 22 October 2019
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 29 October 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 5 November 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
A Data Science team is required to work on complex data science problems taking up to several months at a time to deliver solutions the help inform DIT policy making.
Latest start date
Monday 9 December 2019
Expected contract length
Max 2 years with work split into SOWs. The first SOW will run until the end of March 2020.
Organisation the work is for
Department for International Trade
Budget range
Total contract value of £1.75m - £2m for the 2-year length. Each SOW will have a budget allocated to it and the agreed cost of each SOW must be agreed by DIT before the work commences.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Department for International Trade (DIT) requires a specialised data science team to deliver innovation projects drawing upon data science tools and techniques in order to inform internal trade policy development.

There is an existing Data Science function within DIT. The existing teams provide support to existing business units, however there are some projects that need further development and cannot be supported by the current teams.
Problem to be solved
There are a range of problems to be solved, including:
- Automated processing of existing free trade agreements & machine learning models applied to global trade flows
- Run short proofs of concept alongside more systematic development of tools or techniques that show promise, with a view to operationalize as soon as viable.

There are further problems that will need to be solved as part of this Contract, but they will be defined through subsequent Statements of Work throughout the lifetime of the Contract.
Who the users are and what they need to do
The users will vary but will, for the most part, be internal staff at DIT.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
There is an existing data science function within within the Department, working on short sprints to deliver data science outputs across the Department.
Existing team
DDaT Data Science team:
- 1x Product Manager
- 1x Delivery Manager
- 5x Data Scientists
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Windsor House, 50 Victoria Street, SW1H 0TL
Working arrangements
The team will be based at the DIT office in Windsor House. Remote working may be allowed 1 day per week.
Security clearance
All staff should have minimum BPSS level security clearance in place before work is started. Developers and any other roles requiring database access should have SC level security clearance before work is started.

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
  • Demonstrate experience using natural language processing, including sentiment analysis, topic modelling and named entity recognition
  • Demonstrate skills and proficiency in using the core machine learning techniques. E.g. regression, k-means, etc.
  • Demonstrate experience telling engaging stories with data by using effective data visualisation tools and techniques
  • Demonstrate expertise around deep learning & neural networks.
  • Demonstrate experience working with highly unstructured data and make it fit for use in data science projects.
  • Demonstrate ability to understand economic theories and concepts and to translate them into Data Science models, then translating the results back into conclusions that economic policy makers can understand
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate experience in the planning and delivery of user-centred, agile projects, following the Government Service Standards and Technology Code of Practice
  • Demonstrate experience working as a strategic supplier for another organisation to deliver long-term data science projects
  • Demonstrate international trade (or related field) domain expertise
  • Demonstrate experience working with the AWS platform

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstration of real innovation in the application of data science techniques to solve real world problems, i.e. going beyond standard tools and technologies
  • Describe your team set-up for this contract (including roles and experience) and how you would adapt the team to changing priorities
  • Describe how you will ensure knowledge transfer to DIT staff will take place after each project
  • Describe how you will use data science to help deliver innovation in DIT, and how this reflects the unique circumstances of DIT
  • Identify any risks and dependencies that you foresee for this project, and offer approaches to manage them
  • Detail your estimated time frames and delivery plan for the first SOW (a draft will be issued to shortlisted suppliers)
  • Detail what your potential Discovery report would look like for projects, and how you will ensure the outputs can be used for any potential Alpha phase
  • Detail how you will ensure user needs are understood and met in the development and delivery of the service
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate your ability to integrate and work alongside existing Data Science & development teams
  • Demonstrate how you will communicate effectively across all levels of DIT
  • Demonstrate your ability to deliver in an open, collaborate, agile way according to the principles outlined in the Government Service Design Manual
  • Demonstrate how you will build capability within the existing data science team
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. What team size and skills set is required for the delivery of this contract?
The team can be composed of varying levels of data science expertise, but at least one of the team will need to be a Lead/Senior Data Scientist who has experience of delivering data science projects of similar complexity.

At the proposal stage, suppliers will be asked to produce a rate card for data science specialists across several levels of seniority.

The number of individuals required will likely vary in accordance with each work package.
2. Is this a new project or an existing one the current team working on. And if existing, will the data scientists currently there to form as part of the new team in addition to the Data Scientists we will provide?
All work packages that have been identified are new projects that the in-house team does not have the capability to deliver. Whilst the successful supplier should be able to complete these work packages independently, the successful supplier is still expected to embed itself within the in-house team and work along side existing data scientists as required.
3. What are the current tools used by the existing data science team for machine learning modelling?
We use Python and R through JupyterLab and Rstudio. We use PostgreSQL for structured data. We have some scope to add additional open source tools as needed.
4. Does DIT have programming teams set up to deliver clean data to data science teams?
We have Data Engineers working within the wider team, and part of their role is to provide data engineering support to data science teams. However complex or intensive data engineering resource may not always be available due to competing demands, so ideally data scientists in the team will have the capability to carry out some data engineering themselves using DIT's established data infrastructure to do so.
5. Is Agile well adopted amongst data science teams in the organisation?
Agile is fully adopted within the part of DIT where the team will be working.
6. If large data environment transformation is underway, what anticipated knock-on effects to data science teams do DIT expect?
The transformation work underway will not directly affect the work of the Data Science teams.
7. Is all security clearance required before the start date of 9th December? If database access isn't required in the first phase of the project (or first SOW), would BPSS clearance be enough initially?
In order to access sensitive case/individual level the Data Scientists will need to have SC. Data Scientist not working on sensitive data can start without SC clearance, but they should meet the departmental requirements for SC clearance. That is, they must have lived in the UK for a minimum of three years prior to applying for SC clearance.
8. Is the intention to create a frame work of 3 suppliers or to down select that to a single strategic supplier?
There is no intention to award this contract to multiple suppliers. DIT are seeking a sole supplier for this work.
9. What is the mechanism for evaluating SOW responses and clarifying requirements? Is there a standard SOW template?
The DOS SOW template will be used for each work package. It is DIT’s intention that we will work with the awarded supplier to create a final SOW, rather than ‘evaluating’ a supplier response to each SOW.
10. Is there an existing Incumbent who has previously done Data Science work for you and has supported your team?
No, this is a new requirement.
11. Are you able to confirm whether you are only looking for Data Scientists or a multi-disciplinary team e.g. Product Manager, Delivery manager, Data Scientists, User Researcher etc?
We are looking for a team composed primarily of Data Scientists. DIT will provide one person to fulfil a PM/DM role, with any additional resource being supplied by the awarded supplier if required. As part of the assessment process we will be looking at how the proposal will make the work of the team dovetail with the work of the rest of the Department. User research resource will be supplied by DIT.
12. For the question "Demonstrate international trade (or related field) domain expertise", are you looking for suppliers to demonstrate supporting organisation who trade internationally or working with organisations like the Department for International Trade who help facilitate international trade?
We are looking for evidence of suppliers of having worked on similar types of data problems. That is, suppliers who have provided solutions to similar problems before that will have applications to international trade issues. Experience of working with trade data is not an essential requirement.
13. How many work packages do you approximately envisage during the lifetime of the contract?
The number of work packages will depend on the nature and the scale of the work identified throughout the life of the contract. Initially there will be a single work package running until March 2020, however it may be necessary to run more than one work package in parallel further down the line.
14. The document speaks about producing solutions, is there an environment/method in place for this or will development of this environment be necessary?
Yes, DIT has an environment in place for data science. However further development of the platform may be necessary for some solutions.
15. Are there some specific use cases this contract is looking to address or that still need to be determined (if use cases are known can the business area/problem space be shared?)?
The areas mentioned in the tender are expected to be the key areas. Although the work areas and projects may develop in line with external developments. Further information may be given at the shortlisting stage.
16. Is there an expectation that the Data Science tool-set mentioned will evolve (or is the department open to it evolving) during the terms of this contract?
Yes, the data science tool-set will naturally evolve over time in line with our needs, although maintaining a focus on open source tools.