Open Source Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Feature development for FCO's open-data analysis platform (AWS based)

Incomplete applications

20
Incomplete applications
18 SME, 2 large

Completed applications

17
Completed applications
12 SME, 5 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Wednesday 4 December 2019
Deadline for asking questions Wednesday 11 December 2019 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Wednesday 18 December 2019 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Overview
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work Develop capability of FCO’s existing cloud analysis platform with the addition of new features. The platform currently draws on a number of data sources and provides basic analysis functionality. We wish to build on this by developing advanced geospatial analysis, custom dashboarding and graph database enabled network analysis capabilities.
Latest start date Saturday 1 February 2020
Expected contract length 3 months. This is dependent on the start date, as the contract must be concluded by 31/3/2020.
Location No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for Open Source Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Budget range The maximum budget for this requirement is £156,000 (excl. VAT)

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The Open Source Unit's aim is to best use open data to help the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deliver across the whole spectrum of its policy priorities (encompassing many spheres, such as: crisis response, consular services, security and sustainability).

The work must be completed by 31st March 2020.
Problem to be solved Our existing platform draws on from a variety of rich data resources. Its analytical capabilities are at an early phase of development and we want to enable users to better exploit the full potential of the data. For instance we want to:

- improve the geographical querying and visualisation capabilities
- add functionality to enable users to curate their own visualisations and dashboards;
- build functionality for users to explore the relationships between entities featured in the data.

The platform must be secure and meet the National Cyber Security Centre’s requirements for official documents.
Who the users are and what they need to do The platform is intended to meet a wide range of informational and analytical foreign policy use-cases around open data. These include collating some high value data streams; mining self-hosted data for timeseries trends and qualitative insights; visualising and spatial querying data with geospatial dimensions; harnessing live API-based data resources; and comparative-analysis of a broad range of timeseries data resources. It also looks to enable groups of users to collate and manage shared informational resources and analyses, so to inform decisions around strategic objectives in the region and to track the impact of previous interventions.
Early market engagement None
Any work that’s already been done The platform has already undergone two stages: initial prototyping, followed by a five-month intensive development phase to get the platform into a live production state with active daily users. The cloud architecture has been put into place and provides a suitable foundation for further feature development. Data pipelines exist that provide regular updates from a number of sources; these can be easily replicated to link to other potential sources. A number of backend components are in place that can be expanded (e.g. Elasticsearch for document storage). A well designed front-end has been developed that we envisage adding to.
Existing team OSU has three data scientists who would be involved with the data science aspects of the project e.g. machine learning / data wrangling. At this stage we do not expect any additional suppliers to be involved with the project. We have an existing early life support contract with a third party supplier to provide basic maintenance to keep the service live.
Current phase Live

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH
Working arrangements We expect to have regular catch-ups, at least once per week at the FCO premises, but perhaps more frequently if the project requires it.
Security clearance All staff working on FCO premises must be at least SC cleared or capable of being cleared to SC. Bidders must confirm clearance of nominated resources. If required, FCO will initiate SC clearance.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Suppliers must be accredited or working towards ISO27001, or equivalent.

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
  • experience of developing user-friendly, visually engaging user interfaces, specifically using Vue.js
  • experience of developing interface components for handling geospatial/map data exploration
  • experience of interacting with Elasticsearch
  • experience of cloud archetecting (specifically AWS), including serverless components (e.g. AWS Lambda)
  • experience of developing data-pipelines, e.g. to provide updates from APIs
  • experience using graph databases – interrogating relationships between nodes
  • experience of working in an agile team to deliver software based on user requirements
  • experience producing user documentation and maintenance documentation
  • familiarity with government cyber security requirements for official data
  • experience of developing secure user authentication
Nice-to-have skills and experience

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 3
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • How the approach or solution meets your organisation's policy or goal
  • How they've identified risks and dependencies and offered approaches to manage them
  • Team structure
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Have a no-blame culture and encourage people to learn from their mistakes
  • Take responsibility for their work
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Be comfortable standing up for their discipline
  • Can work with clients with low technical expertise
Payment approach Fixed price
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Have you engaged a consulting partner to support you so far? And which one? FCO has worked alongside external suppliers to develop the analysis platform to its current state.
2. Was the prototyping and/or development phase completed by a supplier or internal staff? FCO has worked alongside external suppliers to develop the analysis platform to its current state.
3. Does the FCO have a preferred cloud platform provider for hosting the portal? The preferred cloud platform provider is AWS.
4. You mentioned in the previous bid for initial build that you had used the VUE framework. Is this now your preferred framework or did you change to a different framework? VUE.js is the current preferred framework. We do not anticipate changing from VUE.
5. Is there an investment for re-working the front end? We would like to maintain the current front-end and only modify it to incorporate additional new features.
6. When do you anticipate that your system will be fully mature and thus requiring support outside of OSU team? April-May 2020.
7. What are the expected user volumes? 500-2000.
8. Does the solution need to be worked on in FCO premises? The solution can be worked on remotely provided that it is from a location within the United Kingdom.
9. Do we face any security constraints that might impact our approach? All staff working on FCO premises must be at least SC cleared or capable of being cleared to SC. Bidders must confirm clearance of nominated resources. If required FCO will initiate SC clearance.
10. Are you intending to use any internal data or just data in the public domain? The platform is intended to be used exclusively with open source (public domain) data.
11. Can we access the prototype and previous development work that has been carried out? For security reasons, it is not possible to provide access before the contract has been awarded.
12. Does the starting date required consider the provisioning for SC for the team members? No the start date published does not take this into account.
13. Do FCO consider this to be an outcomes or resource based project? This is considered an outcome based project.
14. In a previous Q&A, the FCO stated that they have worked alongside external suppliers for the completed prototyping and/or development phase. Does the FCO consider that the successful bidder for this project will work alongside the existing supplier or will the existing supplier be bidding for this project independently? If the existing supplier chooses to, they will bid for this project independently.
15. Can you please state who your current external supplier partner is and how you are ensuring a level playing field for the competition as well as how you intend to share knowledge with new suppliers to enable an effective competitive bid? We cannot state who the incumbent supplier is. At this stage bidders are only required to respond to the generic essential criteria. Prior knowledge of the system will not necessarily be advantageous at this stage.

Once a shortlist has been finalised, successful suppliers will be sent an identical set of requirements to base their final bid submission upon. The playing field will therefore be level as all suppliers will receive the same documents.
16. Does the FCO consider IR35 to be applicable to resource management for this project? Off-payroll working rules (IR35) do not apply.